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strawberry fools

The season for English strawberries is short and sweet. The jewel in the crown of summer fruits must be treated with respect and devotion.

Probably one of the first packaged foods, sold in the 16th century in cone-shaped baskets, regarded in medieval times as an aphrodisiac and by the Romans as a cure for melancholy and bad breath, it is a fruit to be treasured.

Can lengthen the intensity of that first taste of summer, strawberry recipes are a must for discerning cooks, eaten fresh from your garden with oodles of clotted cream or sprinkled liberally with black pepper to enhance flavor.

Some of my favorites are: Strawberry Curd, a great change from the more traditional lemon curd, Dried Strawberries, a delicious reminder of summer in your winter breakfast cereal, Strawberry Ice Cream, naughty but nice any time of year, and strawberry vodka, said served at Christmas.

  • Strawberry curd: preparation time 15 minutes; cooking time 35 minutes Makes approx. 650g. 200g strawberries Finely grated zest of 1 orange Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon 250g castor sugar 120g unsalted butter 4 good quality eggs Wash strawberries, dry and peel, make fruit puree (sieve pips optionally). Put the puree on top of a ban-marie or in a bowl on top of a saucepan of boiling water. Add butter, orange and lemon and sugar. Beat the eggs and add the ingredients. Cook, stirring until sugar dissolves; continue cooking, stirring regularly, until the mixture thickens. To curdle in hot sterile jars, cover with a cloth and allow to cool before sealing with lids. The curd will keep for a couple of months if kept refrigerated.

  • dried strawberries

    Use sound ripe fruit and cut berries into even slices, approx. 50mm. Arrange slices in a single layer without touching each other on lined baking sheets. Oven dry on the lowest setting, works great in the coldest oven of an Aga, takes about 12 hours. When completely cool, store in airtight containers in a cool, dark place. Warning, make sure the fruit is completely dry before storing.

  • Strawberry ice cream

    Serves 6 Flavorful ripe fruit is essential to this recipe 340g peeled ripe strawberries Juice of 1 orange and 1 lemon 170g caster sugar 420ml heavy cream Rub berries through strainer or process briefly in a blender or food processor and strain the puree. Combine the puree with orange and lemon juice and sugar. Set the mixture aside for about 2 hours to intensify the flavor. Whip the cream until it stands in soft peaks, combine with the puree by beating lightly. Freeze in an ice cream maker following manufacturer’s instructions.

  • strawberry vodka

    Peel enough strawberries to fill a mason jar or wide-neck bottle of your choice. Cut the fruit or prick the berries with a daring needle and place in a jar or bottle. Add enough powdered sugar to cover about a third of the berries, and top with vodka. The sweetness of this liqueur is a matter of personal choice, so experiment with amounts of sugar to fruit – enjoy. Close the bottle and keep it in a cool, dark place for at least a month, shaking occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Strain and rebottle, and if you’re feeling generous, give it away as a Christmas present, as long as you keep a couple.

Compiled by Jackie Miller – Colliers Hill

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