Homemade strawberry puree is made by cooking frozen strawberries, water, a pinch of salt, and some sugar. Make it as light or sweet as you like, and use it to make all sorts of treats.
How do you make a strawberry puree from scratch?
I'm sharing this recipe for how to make strawberry puree or syrup because I realized how incredibly often I use it in recipes, and just in my life. I use it to make strawberry milk (well, my daughter uses it that way), as an ice cream topping, and over some yogurt and granola.
It's especially useful in no bake recipes, which like everyone else I make more often in the warmer months. The natural sweetness in the strawberries, plus any sugar that you add to them, helps keep the puree or syrup fresh for at least a couple of weeks in the refrigerator, too.
Strawberry puree or strawberry syrup
Think of strawberry syrup as a sweeter, thicker version of strawberry puree. Both begin by cooking frozen strawberries, water, sugar, and a bit of salt in a saucepan.
There's no reason to thaw the strawberries ahead of time, since they'll thaw over the heat. We add a bit of water, which mostly cooks off, so that the mixture doesn't burn before the strawberries release their own moisture.
The strawberry puree is made by cooking the mixture just until the strawberries are softened and the mixture has only just begun to reduce. Puree with a stick blender while everything is still in the pan, or in a regular blender in batches since a hot liquid will expand during blending.
If you'd like to make the thicker, sweeter syrup, just add a bit more sweetness (to taste) to the puree, and cook it down until the volume is reduced by about half. You'll begin with about 3 cups (24 fluid ounces or 700 ml) of puree, and finish with about 1 1/2 cups (12 fluid ounces or 350 ml) of syrup.
The photo just above is the syrup, thickened considerably from the puree. You can see how dark and rich in color it is.
How to use the strawberry puree or syrup
Here are the most shining examples of recipes in my regular home rotation that use some form of either the puree or the more concentrated syrup. If sweetness is not that important to you, you can use the strawberry puree and the syrup interchangeably in these recipes.
The perfect smooth and creamy no bake strawberry cheesecake, made with strawberries, cream cheese and whipped cream, plus a bit of gelatin and sugar. If you have a whole bunch of strawberry syrup made, just use that in place of the first 4 ingredients of the cheesecake filling.
For a lighter option, try our recipe for no bake strawberry yogurt pie. In that recipe, I recommend the syrup instead of the puree, since the pie is otherwise not very sweet.
Smooth and creamy, naturally gluten free strawberry yogurt popsicles are perfect for a refreshing breakfast on the go, or an afternoon snack. To make these popsicles, use half strawberry puree or syrup (syrup for a more decadent, sweeter popsicle) and half plain yogurt.
These tender and light gluten free strawberry cupcakes are flavored with cooked and pureed strawberry syrup, and topped with a strawberry glaze or frosting. Use this strawberry puree or syrup in the cupcake batter and to make that gorgeous glaze.
These healthy fruit dips, in strawberry and chocolate flavors, with Greek yogurt, light cream cheese, honey, fresh or frozen strawberries, and a bit of melted chocolate and cocoa powder are a hit at parties—or any time! Use in place of the strawberries and honey for the strawberry fruit dip.
Ingredients and substitutions
I always make this puree with frozen strawberries, since they're the best, and the cheapest. And there's really no good argument in favor of spending the money on fresh strawberries that you're just going to cook down and puree.
If you're interesting in variations, I think you could make this with blueberries or raspberries, too. Raspberries do have much larger seeds, though, than other berries (also, I'd say blackberries are out of the question for that reason).
So try using a very fine mesh sieve to strain the puree at that step. You won't remove all the seeds, but you'll remove the most bothersome ones. I find that straining the strawberry puree is easy, but certainly won't catch every seed.
The sugar in this puree helps sweeten the strawberries, of course, but it also helps thicken the puree and syrup. You can easily replace it with honey, if you'd prefer to use an unrefined sugar.
Try using 2 tablespoons of honey in place of twice as much (1/4 cup) granulated sugar. Go by taste, and mixture thickness.
Homemade Strawberry Puree and Syrup
1 pound frozen strawberries
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1/4 to 1/2 cup (50 to 100 g) granulated sugar (or more)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Place the frozen strawberries, water, 1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar and salt in a medium-size heavy bottom saucepan. Add more sugar for a sweeter puree.
Place the saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is bubbling. Allow to continue to cook until the strawberries are softened enough to be crushed by pressing them on the side of the saucepan with a spoon and the mixture has just begun to reduce a bit. Remove the pan from the heat. If you have a stick blender, use it to puree the mixture completely while it’s still in the saucepan. If not, allow the mixture to cool a bit and puree it in a regular blender. Be sure you have enough head space in the blender as hot ingredients will expand quite a bit during blending. Blend in batches if necessary. This is the strawberry puree. To finish here, transfer the puree to a heat-safe jar (a mason jar works well) with at least a 3 cup (24 fluid ounce) capacity. Let the jar sit uncovered until cooled, then cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
To make a thicker strawberry syrup, return the mixture to the heat (and to the pan if you’re removed it to blend), add about another 1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar, or to taste. Cook, stirring very frequently, until the mixture has reduced by about half (at least another 5 minutes). It will bubble up at first, so continue to stir until it settles. The mixture will also become darker in color, and nearly twice as thick, but will continue to thicken as it cools. Transfer the syrup to a heat-safe jar (a mason jar works well) with at least a 1 1/2 cup (12 fluid ounce) capacity. Let the jar sit uncovered until cooled, then cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.