If you follow any Bon Appétit staffer on Instagram, you know when Harry’s Berries are in season. In these parts, the arrival of these ridiculously-delicious berries from a single small farm in California marks the official beginning of summer. They’re our first, precious taste of that real-deal ripe-ripe, and their brief season comes well before we actually get any decent local strawberries in this neck of the woods. These things are so bursting with flavor that they almost taste fake, more strawberry-y than you could even imagine strawberries could taste.
But it can’t be all Harry’s Berries all the time—that’s just not the world we live in. And when we’re facing down a clamshell of less-than, trucked-from-far-away fruit, or even farmers’ market berries that aren’t bursting with flavor, we have a simple trick that will make them taste almost as good.
All you’ve got to do to rescue mediocre berries from their own mediocrity? Add a little sugar and salt! Wash your strawberries, cut them, and hit them with a pinch of salt and a couple good three-finger pinches of granulated sugar, give them a little tossy-toss, and watch them magically start to darken and get extra juicy. The additional sugar supplements whatever natural sweetness the strawberries might be lacking, and helps to draw out their juices to form a tasty, ruby red syrup. And the salt, which may seem like a wildcard in a sweet preparation, actually does exactly what it does in savory applications—it makes the strawberries taste more, which is especially welcome in a situation when they don’t taste like all that much. Magically, what were once ho-hum berries start to taste…actually awesome!
But folks, it doesn’t stop with strawberries! This same little one-two punch of a flavor enhancer can be applied to any berry that could use a little pick me up. Raspberries. Blackberries. Blueberries. You name it! It even works with stone fruits like peaches, plums, and nectarines. To be quite honest, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything that couldn’t benefit from a little hit of salt and sugar.
So whenever you can get flavorful, perfectly-ripe berries—Harry’s or otherwise—enjoy them with unadorned and with abandon. And all those other times? A little salt ‘n suga will have things tasting juuuuuust fine.