Macerating fruit means to marinate it in a flavorful liquid. Like marinades need acid, you must use sugar when you macerate fruit. During maceration, the sugar acts as a catalyst to draw liquid through the cell walls of the fruit. Start with a flavorful liquid, add herbs and spices in their fresh form, and finish by taste testing for a successful maceration each time.
Remove the seeds and stems from the fruit and peel tough skins. Slice or chop any fruit you don't want to macerate whole.
Place the fruit in a nonreactive glass or stainless-steel bowl and sprinkle sugar over the top. Use 2 tablespoons of sugar per cup of fruit for light sweetness and 4 tablespoons per cup for heavy sweetness. Cover the fruit with a flavorful liquid, such as liqueur, dark liquor, wine or vinegar.
Add secondary flavoring ingredients, if desired, which can range from subtle vanilla to pungent smoked paprika. Other options include fresh herbs, citrus zest and whole spices.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Macerate soft fruit, such as bananas, at room temperature for about 30 minutes; denser varieties such as apples take 2 hours or longer per cup. Keep the fruit in the refrigerator for longer maceration times. Taste the fruit after macerating it and add more liquid, if needed, to achieve the desired result.
Macerate dried fruit using the same technique but increase the soaking time to 10 hours or longer to achieve a soft bite while maintaining the fruit's integrity.