Strawberry fields forever

Called 'the queen of fruits' in Asia because of its many health-boosting qualities, the strawberry is, without doubt, the quintessential flavour of summer for me. It's the nostalgic flavour that seems to remind me most of summer days when I was little. I can still see, in my mind's eye, my favourite yellow dress, with strawberry stains all down the front!
 
Strawberry's versatility knows no bounds, being only too happy to be transformed into everything from jams and jellies to crumbles and cocktails. There's nothing quite like a bit of seriously good strawberry jam on a croissant or a slice of brioche; or ever-so-slightly mashed strawberries folded through broken meringue and softly whipped cream, a la Eton Mess. Even a quartered strawberry bobbing about in a glass of bubbly feels quite special in a lovely, sunny, celebratory way.
 
The regal strawberry has a wonderful ability to complement, and indeed be complemented by, lots of other fruit too. A classic pairing is that of rhubarb and strawberry - which nature happily facilitates, as the end of the rhubarb season coincides with the start of the strawberry season. Matched together in a compote - as in the recipe on the opposite page - or in a cobbler or a pastry tart, this is a perfect example of a great food marriage.
 
Strawberries also adore peaches, as showcased here in the strawberry and peach crumble recipe which is, for me, one of the best desserts of summer.
 
The imported strawberries that we have in the shops in the winter, however, are like a completely different fruit. They look like strawberries, they feel like strawberries, but they just don't taste like strawberries. So while they're in season, now is the times to make the most of this glorious, antioxidant-packed, heart-shaped red berry.
 

Strawberry Recipes for you to try:

 

Rachel recommends

Close your eyes and imagine the most divine-tasting strawberry ever: sweet, juicy and loaded with tangy red-berry flavours. Well, readers, this perfectly describes the punnet of Irish strawberries that my sister-in-law picked up for me at Mahon Point Farmers’ Market in Cork last Thursday. They came from Rose Cottage Fruit Farm in Co Laois, a family-run business which has been growing lots of different varieties of fruit for over 20 years. The fruit can be found in many other locations around Ireland, including farmers’ markets in Limerick, Clare, Tipperary and Laois. In a few weeks, they’ll have loganberries, raspberries, blueberries, gooseberries and cherries at the markets too!
 
Rose Cottage Fruit Farm, Rose Cottage, Trumera, Mountrath, Co. Laois, tel: (057) 873-2666, or see rosecottagefruitfarm.ie

Shaneod Jun 01, 2015 News