Strawberry Fields . . . .

When did strawberries become synonymous with June?  Was it Wimbledon with its strawberry and cream dishes – or did Wimbledon decide to start itself in June to enjoy the strawberries!? Whichever way, June heralds British strawberries – full of taste and British sunshine (yes, we do get some – and all the more appreciated when we do!) – unlike their foreign counterparts – big but with little flavour.  I am so lucky living where I do, surrounded with farms and their shops, markets and local greengrocers. Eat locally and you will eat well and that carbon footprint of yours has merely made a few steps.

Packed with vitamins, fibre, and particularly high levels of antioxidants known as polyphenols, strawberries are a sodium-free, fat-free, cholesterol-free, low-calorie food. They are among the top 20 fruits in antioxidant capacity and are a good source of manganese and potassium. What’s not to love?! And we all do – from simple strawberries and cream, ice cream, jam and strawberry teas.  I thought this week you might like to try something slightly different with them – starting with JAM.

Everyone knows how to make Jam – but this is a slightly different way – and healthier as it uses half the amount of sugar.  It is called Fridge Jam – because that’s where you keep it when made but it will last a while there (if you don’t let on how much you have made!)

Weigh the fruit and sugar which will be exactly HALF that of the fruit weight.  Put the fruit into a pan and mash to break up.  Add the sugar and the juice of half a lemon and leave for an hour or so. Bring to the boil and boil for EXACTLY 5 MINUTES.  Leave to cool slightly before putting in clean jars and store in fridge when cold.

How do you feel about warm strawberries?  Ever thought of it?  It brings out the juices and the smell is gorgeous – intensely fruity and lightly spicy!

Warm Strawberries with Ricotta Serves 2 (obviously your tennis partner!)

  • 200g strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • ½ rounded dessertspoon icing sugar
  • 125g ricotta
  • 1 dessertspoon runny honey
  • Leaves from a sprig of fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosewater (optional)

Put the strawberries in a pan over a low heat with the lemon juice and icing sugar.  As they warm up the juice will be released so that they are gently poaching in it.  Once the juice is flowing, bring to a gentle simmer for 1 -2 minutes, stirring, then remove from the heat.  In a bowl ,mix the ricotta with the honey, thyme and rosewater. Divide between 4 bowls and spoon over the warm strawberries.

And, finally, with a nod to my Scottish heritage –

SCOTTISH BERRY BRULEE -SERVES 2 -3 (or one?)

  • 250g strawberries
  • 120g raspberries
  • 60g blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar
  • ½ orange juice and zest
  • 120g Greek yogurt
  • 85g creme fraiche
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soft brown sugar
  • ground cinnamon to dust (optional)

Place all berries in an ovenproof dish, sprinkle over 1/2 tbsp caster sugar and the zest and juice of the orange. Mix together the yoghurt, creme fraiche and remaining caster sugar and spread over the fruit and leave in fridge for 2 hours.  Sprinkle the soft brown sugar over the top and dust with the cinnamon, place under a hot grill until the sugar melts. Serve immediately.

And how could I not finish with listening to the original and best (?) version of Summertime? Enjoy the Sunshine – you’ve earned it after our Winter of Non-Content!

(204) Ella Fitzgerald – Summertime – YouTube

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