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 – 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 month you might like to try something slightly different with them – starting with the obvious – JAM.
It’s easy to find recipes for 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 will keep it (and 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.
Did you know strawberries can be used in savoury dishes, too? Try this as an alternative to tomato gazpacho.
- 330g vine-ripened tomatoes chopped
- 700g ripe strawberries, hulled and chopped
- 1 roasted red pepper
- 1 small shallot, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 75ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for frying and drizzling
- Basil leaves to garnish
Put the tomatoes, strawberries, red pepper, shallot, garlic and vinegar in a large bowl and leave overnight. The next day, add the olive oil and whizz together until smooth adding a splash of water if too thick. Season to taste. Fry some little pieces of bread in olive oil, drain and sprinkle with sea salt and serve with the soup, torn basil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil.
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.
Strawberry and Elderflower sorbet – you won’t find a more summery dish than this. The perfect refreshing treat to cool down on a hot day.
- 550g strawberries, hulled and halved
- 200 ml elderflower cordial
- Juice of ½ lemon
Put the strawberries, cordial, 200ml cold water and the lemon juice into a blender and whizz for 2 – 3 minutes till smooth. Pour the mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl, using the back of a spoon to push through any thicker puree. Press down to extract as much as possible then discard and pips and any fibres left in the sieve. Cover and chill for 2 hours. Pour into a container and freeze, taking it out every hour or so to mash with a fork to get limit ice crystals for a 2 – 3 times. Remove from the freezer at least 5 minutes before serving.
Strawberry and Mascarpone Gelato – Strawberry and mascarpone is a classic mix and this is also one of the easiest ice cream recipes you could possibly make!
- 300g strawberries, hulled and chopped
- 2 tbsp elderflower cordial
- 150g golden caster sugar
- 500g mascarpone
- 100g white chocolate, roughly chopped
- 200g strawberries, hulled and quartered
- 1 tbsp elderflower cordial
- 2 tbsp golden caster sugar
Put the chopped strawberries in a bowl. Add the cordial and sprinkle over the sugar. Set aside to macerate for up to 1 hour. Beat the mascarpone and white chocolate together, then fold through the strawberry mixture. Put in a cling film-lined, straight-sided freezer-proof box (about 1 litre) and freeze overnight. For the soft strawberries, put the berries and cordial in a bowl and sprinkle with sugar. Set aside for 15 minutes. Slice the ice cream and spoon over the strawberries to serve.
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.
As you will have noted, most of these recipes are for more than one – but they will all keep to come again to when you need a little sweetness. xx