Or course, it has to be – English strawberries. June is the month they are at their best. But let’s not beat around the bush: erratic weather in the last few weeks is a bane for the growers. In general, many crops are a few weeks behind due to a wet winter and cold Spring.
While the strawberries above are being grown in the traditional way – in the ground, with straw to protect the fruit – this is no longer the norm for many big growers. Polytunnels and raised ‘table top’ troughs with drip irrigation have transformed the strawberry business, extending the season from around six to 20 weeks. Even more high-tech are greenhouse growers who add L.E.D. lighting for early and late crops.
Breeding techniques, too, have made a big impact. Ever-bearing varieties crop for a longer period. For the very latest in strawberry technology, check out these new Delizzimo varieties, which are grown from seed.
Uses in the Kitchen
Trendy techniques include dehydrating strawberries for desserts and breakfasts. But that feels like a waste, to me. Freeze-dried strawberry powder is also a sprinkle of choice in some fashionable establishments. As the publicity blurb says:
Intensely flavoured dried strawberry powder is a great addition to sorbets, macarons, buttercream icing, or cocktails.Try your hand at strawberry macarons with a white chocolate and basil filling, and top with a little gold leaf. Or even use to flavour a dark chocolate truffle ganache, and sprinkle over the top.
But frankly we prefer strawberries fresh and juicy. For desserts and fruit salads, it’s worth pointing out that they benefit from marinading in a spiced sugar syrup. They also pair surprisingly well with basil and a few drops of balsamic vinegar. For a more savoury riff, try a salad of halved strawberries, avocado, feta cheese and mint.