Macerate: verb. soften or become softened by soaking in a liquid.
When macerating fresh fruit, often you will just add sugar and a little salt and then let it sit. The salt and sugar will draw out the juices of the fruit and break down the tissue slightly, creating a soft fruit sauce- no added liquid necessary!
There are a few reasons you might use this technique.
1. Softening dried fruit by soaking in flavorful liquid, like vinegar (for a salad dressing), wine, or other alcohol or juice.
2. Breaking down stringent fruit before baking or serving, to change the feel and presentation of the fruit or draw out more flavors. I find macerated strawberries to be much more flavorful than fresh.
Here's how it's done.