After a slow start to the season due to the cold weather the British strawberry season is now in full swing, so now’s the time to enjoy the best juicy berries.
Hello, this is Cookery Editor, Sue, and if you’ve read any of my previous blogs then you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of seasonal British produce, particularly local produce. Living in “The Garden of England” there are lots of commercial farms, and I was lucky enough to be able to visit B R Brooks & Son who own Langdon Manor Farm which is near Faversham in Kent where they grow two of my favourite fruits – strawberries and raspberries. But you don’t have to live in Kent to enjoy their fresh produce as B R Brooks are one of the main growers who supply Tescos.
Anyone who knows me will know that I’m not good in the mornings, so the job of picking strawberries would not be a good one for me as they have a very early start so that the fruits can be picked before it gets too hot. As the fruits are so delicate they are picked by hand rather than by machine and have to be carefully placed in punnets so that the fruits don’t get bruised. There are regular collections of the picked fruit back to the warehouse throughout the morning so that the fruits don’t get hot if they are left out in the sun, and they are then chilled quickly to the optimum temperature for storage and they are then collected in the afternoon so that they are then for sale in the supermarket the next day so they’re as fresh as possible when we buy them.
I always think of strawberries as being a very British fruit, but according to Alastair Brooks who manages the farm, he said that when he started fruit farming in 1988, about 60% of the strawberries consumed in the UK were imported. Nowadays, almost 75% are homegrown. I suppose that growing up in a farming community in Cornwall, I’ve always been keen to support British farmers and when I’m shopping in supermarkets, if there’s a choice, then I always make a point of buying British strawberries, asparagus, tomatoes or apples rather than imported produce. I probably wouldn’t buy them if they didn’t taste as good, but in my experience, the taste is better too. When we photograph our recipes for the magazine we often have to buy imported produce (sometimes at a much higher cost as we’re buying it out of season) and we often notice that the flavours of the foods are bland compared to foods grown in the traditional seasons.
We’ve put together a selection of our favourite strawberry recipes, savoury as well as sweet to encourage you to try some new strawberry recipes while the fruits are at their best. One of my favourites is the Strawberry Meringue Roulade. It’s based on a recipe that I often make if I have guests coming round with a lemon filling, but at this time of year I like to make the most of using seasonal produce, so now it’s perfect with strawberries, and then next month you can substitute the strawberries for raspberries, or even use a mixture of both.
If you want to try someting a little different, then the Salmon Creviche with Strawberry Salad which makes a lovely light summer lunch.
But whichever way you decide to serve them, make the most of them while they’re at the peak of their seaon. One tip to remember is that if you let them come to room temperature before serving them then they’ll have more flavour than if you serve them straight from the fridge.