Strawberry

This week we will look at the succulent sweet strawberry. This is a juicy red tear drop of sugar.

My daughter especially likes strawberries, so much so that as I am watering my allotment through what seems to be the longest dry spell I can remember, she wanders between the strawberry planters eating any little red gems she can find.

I planted 127 strawberry plants in planters this year, excited for a vast crop, I was only mildly disappointed. It was a vast crop, but of smaller strawberries. I was disappointed with the size, as some of the strawberries had been not much bigger than a raspberry. The flavour however was excellent. I think the hot heat of the sun has really helped make the strawberries super sweet.

Each of the strawberries that I planted were early ones, a good selection from Sutton’s Seeds (I also bought some pine berries, which are the white strawberries) and have been pleased with them; most of the plants survived.

However, on top of these the owner of the allotment before me had a plant.

In researching the issue with small strawberries, it has become apparent that they grow small if the plants do not have enough room; spacing strawberries is incredibly important.

I have grown them in stacked planters (18 plants per planter) and I presume that this is why they are smaller fruit. I do not have a big enough space to plant them all on the ground so for this year at least, this is the only option. I think for the larger specimens I will need to have more space.

However, the smaller fruit can still be used and might be perfect for some of these recipes.


Drinks

Strawberry Gin Fizz

This drink is amazing! The sweet strawberry and syrup match well with the sharpness of the Prosecco (Cava would work as well). The touch of lime adds another dimension. However, the gin you use will define this cocktail. A Gordons gin would work well, however, I personally think that the Seville Orange Tanqueray or Professor Ableforths Bathtub Gin work best, bringing in the sticky sweetness of orange. This makes the cocktail fruitier, but also more complex. It becomes a proper adult cocktail.

INGREDIENTS – PER COCKTAIL

  • 3 fresh strawberries,
  • 1 lime
  • you need to make a syrup infused with strawberry. Take the rest of the sugar and mix with 50ml of water.
  • 3 tablespoons of white sugar
  • 50ml gin
  • Prosecco to top up
  • Ice for the shaker and the glass

METHOD

  1. Start by juicing the lime. Mix it in with half a teaspoon of the white sugar.
  2. You need to make a syrup infused with strawberry. Take the rest of the sugar and mix with 50ml of water. Add one of the strawberries chopped finely. Place the mixture over a low heat and dissolve the sugar. Allow to reduce down to a syrup consistency (you do not want to make it too thick as it will not mix with the alcohol later). Remember it will get thicker as it cools.
  3. Mix the gin with the syrup well, ensure that the syrup loosens fully with the gin.
  4. Slice two of the strawberries and place them with the ice and lime juice in the cocktail shaker.
  5. Add the gin mix to the shaker, seal and shake well (until frost forms on the outside).
  6. Strain mixture into highball glass filled with ice and top up with prosecco.
  7. To garnish strip a piece of lime zest and slice into a fine strip. Twist this around a cocktail stick and then hang on the side of the glass

Starter

Strawberry and Feta Salad

I can honestly say, honestly, that I have never wanted to put strawberries in a salad. It seems like a daft idea. Or so I thought. Well! I was wrong. I have had my eyes opened. I am now a convert to strawberries in savoury dishes! It has been quite the conversion.

I dare you to try this salad!

INGREDIENTS – PER DISH

  • 4 small strawberries, finely sliced
  • 2 handfuls of spinach leaves
  • 50g of feta cheese
  • 20 almonds
  • 1 teaspoon of balsamic pearls (Waitrose sell them here, or you can see how to make your own here)

INGREDIENTS – FOR THE DRESSING

  • 1 cup Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds

METHOD

  1. Firstly, you need to make the dressing. Put the sugar and the balsamic vinegar in a saucepan together. Heat gently over a low heat until the sugar dissolves. Reduce a little bit further and then take off the heat. Add the poppy seeds to the dressing and place on one side.
  2. Gently toast the almonds, being careful not to burn them. Once toasted let them cool.
  3. Arrange the finely sliced strawberries, the baby spinach leaves, the feta (crumbled), the almonds and the balsamic pearls on a wide plate.
  4. Drizzle the balsamic dressing over the plate and serve.

Dessert

Strawberry Fool

This is the natural home of the strawberry, where most feel comfortable in finding something to do with it. I will be honest again, I simply love strawberries to shine in all their glory, simple, on their own (maybe a little sugar) and served with clotted cream.

That is a beautiful dessert. However, let’s make something a little more exciting. I have had so many strawberries that I haven’t known what to do with them all. This is a fun recipe that I came across.

INGREDIENTS – PER SERVING

  • 30ml Greek yogurt
  • 30ml double cream
  • 5ml caster sugar
  • 30g strawberries

INGREDIENTS – FOR THE PUREE

  • 60g of strawberries
  • 5ml lemon juice
  • 10g of caster sugar

METHOD

  1. Firstly, gently roast the strawberries for the fool in an oven at 120 degrees for about an hour. You want the strawberries to dry out slightly and become much sweeter.
  2. Once cooked remove the strawberries and leave to cool
  3. Make the puree by blending all the ingredients together. Taste to check sweetness: if too sweet add a small amount more lemon, if not sweet enough add some more sugar. This depends entirely on the sweetness of the strawberries.
  4. Whip together the double cream, Greek yogurt and caster sugar.
  5. Chop the roasted strawberries into small pieces (half cm squares is a good size).
  6. Mix half of the puree into the yogurt mix and the other half with the pieces of roasted strawberry.
  7. Place the roasted strawberry mix in the bottom of a glass bowl, and then top with the yogurt mix.
  8. Put half a strawberry on top to decorate.

I hope you manage to make some of these recipes! As always, leave your comments below on anything you have made, or any questions you have. Until next time…