“Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless God never did.”
~ Dr. William Butler
With it’s fragrant aroma, brilliant colour and delightful flavour, strawberries are one of the nature’s greatest sweet treats and the first signs that the glorious berry season has well and truly begun.
Plump, sweet and ripe from the early spring sun, this luscious fruit was first mentioned in Roman times around 200BC and has been popular in England since the mid-1500s. In recent years, British varieties have been developed to suit our slightly milder climate, resulting in an extended season; allowing us to enjoy them well into the summer.
British varieties such as Sweet Eve and Eve’s Delight are becoming popular for their naturally sweet and aromatic flavour, however, Elsanta remains the number one British favourite.
Seasonal period: May to July. If good weather continues from July you can expect to see British strawberries until the end of September.
Flavour friends: Almond, Anise, Avocado, Basil, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Coconut, Cucumber, Hazelnut, Mint
Soft cheese – strawberries have creamy notes that work perfectly with dairy products. Soft cheese is particularly good as it also has a touch of acidity.
Buying, storing and preparing: Look for naturally shiny, vibrantly coloured berries that have fresh green caps. Size and shape do not affect the flavour.
Strawberries do not store well and are best eaten as soon as they’re picked. If they need to be stored for a few days it’s best to store them in dark, cool and dry spot instead of the fridge, which alters the flavour and encourages mould.
Cooking: Fresh strawberries are very versatile: You can eat them raw, classically drizzle them with cream, dip them in chocolate, toss them in a salad, ferment into wine, cook them into jams, pies, biscuit, muffins or cakes, or whiz them up in smoothies. The list is endless. They also make delicious additions to pizzas, salsas, sauces and soups.
Health benefits: Strawberries are packed with an abundance of health benefits – an excellent source of vitamin C, phytonutrients and dietary fibre. They are also a good source of vitamin B6, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids
Pick your own: Fresh strawberries should be available at farmers markets and supermarkets across Britain from now until late summer. If you would rather pick your own, pop over here for a list of pick-your-own farms in your region
TIPS: Be aware that strawberries are one of the dirty dozen foods – the most contaminated by pesticide use, so make the effort to find and buy organically grown.