Strawberry Reduction · GF (one pint)

This process reduces the berries by nearly 25%, essentially removing their water content, leaving a concentrated, intensely flavored strawberry puree behind. It’s the perfect springboard for imparting a strong strawberry flavor to a wide variety of desserts.

The vanilla bean is optional, but strawberries and vanilla are besties, so why keep them apart? I consider the rose flower water, on the other hand, essential. Used sparingly, it won’t impart a pronounced rose flavor, but rather a subtle floral note that makes the final product more aromatic and, frankly, magical. It has the power to utterly transform this from “oh, wow, strawberries” to “oh, my dear lord in heaven, strawberries!” Sometimes there is weeping. It’s beautiful.

18 ounces strawberries (frozen work well too)
8 1/2 ounces sugar
1/2 vanilla bean (optional)
a few drops of rose flower water
1/4 tsp kosher salt

Wash and hull the strawberries. Slice the berries and toss with sugar in a medium bowl. Cover and macerate for one hour.

After the hour has passed, place the berries a sieve set over a medium sauce pot to collect the juices. Let them sit in the sieve another 30 minutes to fully drain. This should, ultimately, result in about 12 ounces of strawberry juice, or roughly a cup and a half.

Set the berries aside.

Add the half vanilla bean to the strawberry liquid and set over medium low heat. When the mixture begins to bubble, turn the heat down to low. Maintain the barest simmer, you should only see very occasional bubbles. Simmer until the mixture has reduced by 1/3 (this should be just shy of 1 cup of liquid). Reducing the mixture on low heat helps preserve the fresh berry taste; of course you can speed this process by simmering on a higher heat, but it will impart a more pronounced “cooked” flavor. To me, this is less desirable.

While the mixture is reducing, transfer the berries to a food processor or blender, and pulse until smooth. Strain the berries through a sieve, pushing to help as much of the mixture pass through the sieve as possible. In the end, you should only have about 4 ounces of pulpy solids that will not pass through the sieve.

Save the strawberry pulp for jam, to stir into muffin batter or to beat into buttercream; but for the purposes of this recipe, it is not needed, so set it to the side.

When the strawberry liquid has sufficiently reduced, fish out the vanilla bean (scraping out the strawberry-vanilla pulp it will now have inside) and set aside or discard (this straweberry-y vanilla pod makes a great addition to a pot of tea, FYI).

Whisk the warm strawberry syrup into the berry puree, along with a few drops of rose flower water and the salt.

You now have about 18 ounces of concentrated strawberry puree. Store refrigerated for about a week, or freeze almost indefinitely.

This reduction is a wonderful thing to have on hand. I love it spooned over or swirled in Vanilla Bean Ice Cream or basil pots de crème. Blend equal parts of the reduction and coconut milk for killer lactose free, vegan Berry Ice Cream. Or use the reduction to flavor Vanilla Bean Marshmallows.


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Any questions?

Jun 19, 2011 ·  7:25 AM

You are a genius, my friend. Brilliant idea.

 · Chocolate Chilli Mango ·

Jun 19, 2011 ·  4:23 PM

@CCM, thank you ma’am! It is such potent stuff!


Jun 20, 2011 · 12:44 PM

I agree.

But you knew that

 · kaitlin ·

Jun 20, 2011 ·  9:29 PM



Jul 04, 2011 ·  6:58 PM

I just tried this, and you were SO right about the rose water. Magical.

 · isabel ·

Jul 04, 2011 ·  7:45 PM

Aw, yay, Isabel! Given your affection for elderflower, I’m not surprised you gave it a try. Thanks for sharing your results.


Jul 05, 2011 ·  3:19 PM

It is a little known law of physics that everything is improved by the addition of elderflower cordial – even strawberries. I’ll show you some pictures once this amazing concoction has become ≈ice cream≈.

 · isabel ·

Jul 06, 2011 ·  9:56 AM

@Isabel, oh YES! I love, love, love the reduction based ice creams. So much intense flavor!


Jul 27, 2011 ·  7:40 PM

Wow, this is so powerful! Great in your coconut milk based ice cream, as well as in my husband’s homemade yoghurt. We used to add jams to this yogourt – not anymore. Next time (I already made the reduction twice), i’ll blend the two ideas and make strawberry frozen yoghurt. I wonder if it could be canned, so we can enjoy it year-round?

 · AnneHD ·

Jul 28, 2011 ·  9:40 AM

@Anne, You might have to check with a canning site. It could be canned, from a technical stand point, but I know the sugar ratio in canning is very important, and compared to many jams, this has less sugar. I wish I had an answer for you!

If you’re feeling indulgent, replace the coconut milk with cream. It makes a killer ice cream too. Such a simple change, but totally different results.

Let me know about your frozen yogurt plan, that sounds incredible! My husband too is a yogurt maker, I’ll have to beg him to whip up a batch!


May 14, 2012 · 12:51 PM

Oh my! This was really good. I doubled the recipe then split it into two containers and stirred a little rose into one of them. Tastes wonderful! The best part though, was the left over pulpy stuff. I beat it into a batch of Swiss meringue buttercream, it looked beautiful and had a subtle but very clear, true taste of strawberries. The little flecks were so pretty. I warmed the strawberry pulp just a little to take the chill of the fridge off of it before I added it to the SMB. Thank you Stella

 · Valeriee ·

May 14, 2012 ·  7:11 PM

@Valeriee, I’m so glad you gave it a try! And I love your idea on whipping it into buttercream, that sounds so fabulous. What kind of cake will you put it on? Hard to go wrong, really!


Jun 13, 2012 ·  6:48 PM

Hi Stella, is the strawberry reduction supposed to be dark? Also, does it usually take a long time to reduce?

 · luv2cook · 

Jun 14, 2012 · 10:22 AM

@luv2cook, it does indeed get pretty dark. Of course it can burn, so just make sure you’ve got a heavy bottomed pot and you’re stirring frequently and it will be a “good” darkness, nothing burned. But it does take forever. I haven’t tried timing it, I’m usually dashing around the kitchen with so many other chores that time flies.


Jun 14, 2012 ·  2:51 PM

I really love this reduction. Besides its obvious versatility for desserts, I used it to make a wonderful strawberry vinaigrette.

 · Jim · 

Jun 15, 2012 · 10:13 AM

@Jim, I don’t have a savory bone in my body so I would never have thought of that! Thanks for sharing, I will have to try that very soon.


Jun 19, 2012 · 12:54 PM

This looks great! Our strawberry season just left, but there are a few local berries around. I assume that the same can be done with blueberries? (they’re in season here now) Is there a way to reduce the sugar some? I have diabetics here.

 · debi · 

Jun 19, 2012 ·  2:24 PM

@debi, the process for blueberry is a little different; I’ve got that recipe posted =<a href=”<txp:permlink id=“307” />” >here</a>==. As for reducing the sugar, I am not entirely certain. A lot of sugar is needed to draw all the liquid out of the berries and to also insulate them during the reduction process. I haven’t experimented with a reduced sugar method, so I’m afraid I can’t offer any guidance.


Jun 21, 2012 ·  3:53 PM

Love strawberry anything, but this sounds abfab over icecream. Wondering if you’d even dare to recommend just puree instead of the real deal fruit? Any adjustments to make this come out just as pristine?

 · Susan · 

Jun 21, 2012 · 10:10 PM

@Susan, through work I’m able to get some very high quality fruit purees, so I actually developed this recipe to do the same thing. There are so many times where I use “6 ounces of puree” but since you can’t buy it at the grocery store, I needed a recipe that would work just as well. So if you can get good quality 100% fruit fruit-purees, then go for it!


Jul 20, 2012 ·  4:49 PM

I just used this in place of lemon juice in my favorite lemon curd recipe, dialing back the sugar of course, and OH EM GEE the deliciousness….I keep needing to dip a finger in, which is bad and needs to be discouraged as this is supposed to fill someone’s wedding cake…

 · Psyche1226 · 

Jul 22, 2012 ·  3:02 PM

@Psyche1226, oh, wow, that sounds incredible!! I haven’t tried that yet, thanks for the tip, I will have to check that out ASAP. Hope the wedding cake is a success!!


Jul 31, 2012 ·  4:51 PM

Stella: the cake turned out excellently! I ended up doing half hazelnut, half strawberry. The strawberry cake was layered alternately with the curd I mentioned and also your strawberry white chocolate ganache, whipped (it ended up working beautifully), because I cannot make up my mind and had to use them both, lol. For the hazelnut cake, I used the infamous hazelnut brown butter cake and layered it with a white chocolate gianduja which I made by Frankensteining your homemade Nutella with the pistachio one…the bride pretty much died and went to Narnia when she tasted it, her face was priceless. The guests didn’t mind it either — they kept running back for seconds or to try the other flavor. The bride’s mom said to someone else that it was the best cake she had ever had IN HER LIFE. Thanks is definitely due you for such success, so…THANK YOU!

 · Psyche1226 · 

Aug 01, 2012 ·  9:27 AM

@Psyche1226, I am so thrilled to hear it! It sounds like a memorable cake! I used to do wedding cakes full time, and the one thing I learned is that when all the layers are different and exciting (custom flavors) guests will eat more than one piece and sometimes it’s a bit of a feeding frenzy when people realize they missed one, etc. I always budget a little extra… Anyhow, congratulations on a job well done; wedding cakes are so much work and stress, I know you must be so relieved to have it successfully behind you. Cheers!


Aug 10, 2012 ·  6:22 PM

Here’s the finished cake in case you want to see. My kid sister-in-law took the photo, she kind of rocks.

 · Psyche1226 · 

Aug 11, 2012 ·  6:46 PM

Oh Psyche, it’s stunning!! I’m absolutely in love with the acorn theme and tree stump cake plateau! Wow, wow, wow! Forget the sister-in-law, YOU rock.


Aug 21, 2012 ·  1:29 PM

omg goodness that cake is amazing!! =) congrats psyche1226… I was wondering if you whipped up the ganache in the same proportion or did u reduce the reduction like stella had told me to do earlier to get a thicker ganache? Also if u dint change the proportions, how was the consistency? aND I must say ur flavours sound so amazing!!!
stella – i delivered after i asked you all abt the proportions bit and been busy ever sicne =) Finally got my groove back now so planning on making this asap!

 · elni · 

Aug 21, 2012 ·  5:14 PM

@elni, I hope we hear back from Psyche so you can get the extra info!


Aug 22, 2012 · 11:00 PM

Awwwww! Thanks so much Stella! That totally made my day! I have to admit I was pretty happy with how those little “acorns” came out…they’re really hazelnuts with molded chocolate caps…it was so funny the way people kept coming up and asking if they were edible, and then their faces when they tried one…!

@elni, no, I just used the proportions Stella gave. My ganache was quite thick even before whipping (about as thick as a chocolate ganache made with those proportions would be). Whipped, it was about the consistency of a thick-ish frosting, and actually stayed that consistency quite well even after sitting out at room temperature for a while.

 · Psyche1226 · 

Sep 06, 2012 ·  3:11 PM

Hi Stella! I want to make your strawberry chantilly cream recipe and only need the 4 ounces of this reduction. Do you have a scaled down version of this recipe?? I want to use the cream to fill cupcakes (can I?). Thank you!

 · mari · 

Sep 06, 2012 ·  6:30 PM

Hi Mari. You can scale the recipe down however you like, just use a much smaller pot and keep a close eye on it.

The reduction is a decent amount of work to make, so it seems like a lot of trouble to go through for such a small amount and for one use. I would recommend just making the big batch and freezing the rest for using as pancake syrup, ice cream base (mix half and half with cream anglaise for the best strawberry ice cream) a sauce or syrup, etc.

Another option would be to make a similar chantilly by using freeze dried strawberries ground into a powder. One package of freeze dried berries (1.2 ounces I think?) would be perfect for flavoring a single batch of chantilly.

Hope that helps!


Feb 03, 2013 ·  5:59 PM

I make a strawberry puree similar to this, without the sugar, so I can sweeten for different applications as needed.
I use frozen berries, and let thaw in a colander catching all the juices, overnight.
I reduce the juice by 75% in the microwave. I have found this evaporates the water from the juice without caramelizing the sugars.
Puree the berry pulp in a food processor, adding the reduced juice when the berries are almost fully pureed.
I store frozen for future uses.

 · kathyskakes ·

Feb 04, 2013 ·  9:58 AM

Hi kathyskakes! Thanks for the tip. If we only had a microwave at work! Haha.


Apr 05, 2013 ·  7:56 PM

Hi Stella, could I use blueberry reduction in my muffin batter?

 · Luv2cook · 

Apr 05, 2013 · 10:32 PM

Hey Luv2cook, long time no see. You know, I’m not sure. I’ve tried using it in cake batter, but it failed pretty miserably (it just screws up the sugar content too much). But I was using a lot. Maybe if you only used a little (like for a swirl) it would turn out alright.


Apr 11, 2013 ·  3:23 AM

Hi Stella, it’s so exciting reading all the ideas of how to use this strawberry reduction I’m wondering how should I portion this if I wanted to add it into a ganache? Thanks!

 · Bakaholic · 

Apr 11, 2013 · 10:09 AM

Hi Bakaholic! A dark or white ganache? Really, you can just add it in to taste, but in the case of white chocolate, you can use it in a 1:1 ratio to replace the cream. Hope that helps!


Jul 06, 2013 ·  1:29 AM

Hey Stella,

Have you got a recipe idea for a whipped strawberry ganache? I know it is not your favorite macaron filling, but I would like to try your incredible reduction in a whipped strawberry ganache for macarons.

Today, I added ½ tsp of tartaric acid to the sugar. The tartaric acid seems to boost the release of the berry juices.

Do you strain the berries through a sieve in order to concentrate the aromas, or is it because you want to avoid the strawberry seeds in the final reduction?

…Good luck with the work on your book – I can´t wait for it. I hope it will be possible to buy a signed copy and have it sent to Denmark…faints

/ Henrik

 · MacaronThief · 

Jul 06, 2013 · 11:46 AM

Hi MacaronThief! I discard the solids for cooking because they can scorch on the bottom of the pot if you don’t babysit them, so I think it’s easier to just ditch ‘em before hand. I’ve made a whipped strawberry ganache, but I haven’t ever written it down.

I would try 2 parts white chocolate, 1 part strawberry reduction and 1 part cream. After whisking everything together, chill overnight and then whip the next day. I’m not sure how the texture will be for a macaron filling, but it would be a good place to start. You can use very small amounts to make a test batch so you don’t waste your ingredients as you learn.

I will definitely send a signed book your way, thank you so much for the interest!!


Sep 08, 2013 · 10:53 PM

So I made a bowl of reduction to go with a white chocolate strawberry cheesecake I made for a potluck lunch on Sunday, and the cleanup crew TOSSED OUT THE BOWL OF SYRUP AT THE END!!! I’m so upset! I noticed that not many people put the syrup on the cake (probably didn’t want too many calories in an already rich lunch?), so I was really looking forward to putting the reduction to good use in another recipe, and I was left devastated! =’[ Gonna have to find a squeeze bottle so this never happens again!

In other news, I have a question in regards to the syrup itself: why is the berry puree from the processed strawberries added in at the end as opposed to being reduced together with the juice? And a related question, what would happen if you tossed the sugar and strawberries into the food processor at the beginning, instead of slicing them up?

 · KayDat · 

Sep 15, 2013 ·  4:49 PM

Hi KayDat! Sorry for the delayed response, I was finishing my cookbook! But now that it’s done, I’m back!

That is such a tragic story ughhh, I have been there so many times! I cook the syrup without the puree because the fruit pieces tend to settle at the bottom where they can scorch. Also: it sounds like you may have found a nifty shortcut! I hadn’t thought about that…


Dec 15, 2015 ·  1:12 PM

This is an old post, not sure you’re checking these anymore. I want to make your vanilla marshmallows with raspberry swirled in them; would I use the above reduction recipe/instructions for strawberries, substituting raspberries instead? Just not sure about sugar and cooking times for a different berry. Thanks.

 · Lisa · 

Dec 16, 2015 ·  1:27 PM

Hi Lisa! I haven’t tried the reduction with raspberries, so I’m not sure how to advise: re sugar and bake-time adjustments. My instinct is that they probably have a similar water content (most berries do), but due to their softer structure they may release it more quickly. If you’d like to play it by ear, I’d recommend making the strawberry version first just so you can have a good sense of the process and final consistency.


May 10, 2016 ·  1:05 PM

Hi. Stella. Thanks for sharing your recipe. It was my first time making a fruit reduction and I enjoyed following your recipe. The natural strawberry flavor is truly intense!

 · Na · 

Sep 24, 2016 ·  8:04 PM

I’d like to make this recipe but won’t be adding the vanilla. Do I still need to remove the berries and reduce the juice or can I just let it all reduce together and then put it all in the food processor?
Hoping to hear from you soon.

 · QZ · 

Oct 09, 2016 ·  2:10 PM

Hi , I love your site!! Can this be used to make a strawberry cake?

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 · ig ·

Jun 20, 2017 · 11:13 PM

I was curious if the liquid reduction on its own would solidify like a jam or if it would remain a liquid at room temp. Thanks. I love this technique (slow, but effective). I can’t wait to make more purees for cakes and buttercream.

 · Rebecca · 


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