I look forwards to that strawberry time of year and want to share some of my favourite strawberry recipes with you here. Now I have good nets to keep the blackbirds off and there are fewer slugs and snails after 2 cold winters, I am already on my third cropping and putting some aside to last through the year.
The fresh fruits are bursting with anti-oxidant vitamin C. In traditional medicine strawberries are a recommended digestive cleanser. They have antibacterial properties and act as a mild tonic for the liver.
Now the first thing to do with fresh strawberries is pretty obvious and you don’t need a recipe for this – just eat them. I choose only the perfect ones – unblemished and un-nibbled by birds or slugs with a constant colouring all over. They are at their tastiest straight from the plant when warmed by a summer sun. The fresh juice is a delicious taste explosion that has most impact on the taste buds when a little warm.
I take the rest indoors and sort through them. Some are a little white and go onto the windowsill to colour up, others need a bit of trimming to take off slug nibbles, mushy bits or seed clumps. Soon I am ready for jam and other strawberry treats and recipes.
At this moment Sarah comes in with her friend Tamsin and, to my horror, proceed to eat my strawberries. “No”, I cry, “They’re for jam!” My torment just seems to encourage them and add to their enjoyment. Strawberries are a bit like that. And girls.
I cut the remaining strawberries up with a knife to ‘open’ the flavour for the various things I am making today. This allows the juices to pour out of the strawberries. The
smell is divine and fortunately the girls have gone out now. I add the juice of two lemons into the mix. This increases the flavour and acts as a preservative and bacteriacide while the strawberries are raw. It is also important for the jam making as the pectin reacts with the lemon juice to help gel the jam. I stir the mix carefully, working the lemon juice through.
STRAWBERRY FREEZER JAM
One thing that annoys me about traditional jam recipes for preserving strawberries is that the rolling boil pretty much destroys all of the vitamin C. So you can simply mash up some of this mix, add a little sugar or icing sugar to taste, and freeze this mix as it is. It can be used as a very tasty jam, or in puddings such as cheesecake or strawberry fool – or it can be frozen in lolly makers as is.
Strawberries and cream, a marriage made in heaven. I whipped up some double cream and liquidised some of the strawberries in preparation for the next strawberry treats.
I mixed some of these two together and put some aside in a small bowl – a strawberry fool.
As I mentioned above – the raw liquidised mix of strawberries is fine to make freezer lollies, but I like them with a little cream and icing sugar. Fill the lolly moulds to just below the top and put in the sticks. To release the lollies once they are frozen, stand the mould in hot water for a minute or so and wiggle the stick carefully. If you dont have a mould, recycle some small plastic containers eg
STRAWBERRY ICE CREAM
You can also take this cream and strawberry mix (with sugar to taste) and pour it into an old ice-cream container to put in the freezer. Take it out every 20 minutes or so and give it a stir until it freezes. Delicious with fresh strawberries, Mmmm.
Then, onto the jam recipe. Using a measuring jug, I put the remaining strawberries into a big pan. I had 1.5 litres or 3 pints. I put in the same amount of sugar and start the heat, gently stirring the mix. At this stage I find I have only 1 little sachet of pectin powder and don’t live anywhere near the shops. I put it in and add a small knob of butter because it says so in so many recipes. I have never
been clear why but believe it stops the ‘foaming’ on the top.
The mix reaches a rolling boil and I let it go for 4 minutes, then switching off the heat and testing for coagulation by dripping a bit of the jam onto a cold plate. Nowhere near.
I add more sugar and try another rolling boil, mourning the loss of vitamin C. A couple of boils, releasing as much water vapour as possible and its there, ready for the prepared jars. 10 jars will hopefully last me all year.
Summer pudding deserves a page all to itself and I have already written about this awesome pudding on one of my other blogs right here:
click to open in a new page.
I have been living in strawberry world for a week or so now. Strawberries every day, fresh from the garden. Jam, lollies, icecream, strawberries on bread, on toast, Cornish cream teas, summer pudding.
When I looked in the mirror this morning I found this is what I looked like. I’m not showing you my tummy but it looks a bit like the summer pudding above for some reason!
Better go and do some digging !