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British Strawberries – Eton Mess Recipe

The first appearance of British strawberries in our shops and supermarkets signify the start of British Summertime (despite the British weather!). May 1 is the official start date of the British berry season and the strawberry is the first of these fruits to appear. The British strawberry season runs from May through to September with the peak season being June and July. Our British climate is perfect for growing and producing the best-flavoured soft fruits in the world and indeed the best-flavoured strawberries. British Strawberries are usually much smaller than other countries Strawberries but they are packed full of flavour with an intense aroma!

Strawberries have been around as early as 200BC, Roman Times. In medieval times, Strawberries were sold in cone-shaped straw baskets making them one of the earliest packaged foods. Their heart shape has meant they are often associated with romance, in medieval times they were even regarded as an aphrodisiac!  Strawberries were made into a soup with borage and soured cream and tradition dictates they were served to newlyweds at their Wedding Breakfast. Strawberries have also been associated with easing labour pains, digestive complaints, bad breath, skin irritations and even discoloured teeth!  The Strawberry boasts many other health benefits, providing an excellent source of vitamin C, 80gms of strawberries contains your recommended daily allowance of vitamin C. In addition, they provide an ideal source of vitamin K, Manganese, Folic Acid, Potassium, Riboflavin, vitamin B-5, vitamin B-6, Copper, Magnesium and Omega 3 fatty acids.

Strawberries are also known to contain significant levels of antioxidants which help fight the free radicals that can damage cells and are thought to contribute to the formation of many kinds of cancer. Another good reason to enjoy British Strawberries while they are in season!

British Strawberries are directly associated with Wimbledon and the serving of Strawberries and cream. Strawberries have been part of Wimbledon since Victorian Times. Probably because the Wimbledon Tournament takes place at the height of the British Strawberry season in late June early July. At Wimbledon today, we consume in excess of 28 tonnes of British Strawberries and 7,000 litres of cream!  The Strawberries used at Wimbledon are all from Kent, they are harvested on the day of consumption at around 4 a.m. for transportation to Wimbledon in time for preparation and service!  A logistical challenge to say the least!

When I begin to see British Strawberries appearing my thoughts turn to paying a visit to my local farm to pick my own!  Strawberries are so readily available in the supermarkets during the season that the thought of picking your own has probably never crossed your mind but there is no comparison to the taste of fresh Strawberries picked that day in the company of family and friends making for a perfect sunny afternoon out together!  It is an ideal opportunity to spend some quality time with the children, teaching them about the growth and production of fresh Strawberries. Most farms even sell the double cream which is a perfect accompaniment to them!

If you end up picking too many to be eaten with cream as a dessert then there are so many other options for the use of your Strawberries, make a Strawberry Coulis, use them in salads, make a pie, cake, sorbets, milkshake, preserve, the list is endless!  My particular favourite is Eton Mess as it can be as decadent or healthy as you wish to make it!

Recipe: Strawberry Eaton Mess

  • 1 lb. British strawberries (hulls removed)
  • 14 fl. oz. double cream
  • 4 ready-made meringue nests, crushed
  • Sprigs of fresh mint for garnish

Method

  • Puree half of the strawberries in a blender. Chop the remaining Strawberries saving four whole ones for decoration.
  • Whip the double cream until it forms stiff peaks, fold in the strawberry puree and crushed meringue. Fold in the chopped strawberries.
  • Spoon equal amounts of the mixture into 4 cold glasses. Serve garnished with a whole strawberry and a sprig of fresh mint.

If you were feeling adventurous you could make your own meringue to enhance this dish. A favourite of mine is to replace the double cream with either fat-free fromage frais or Greek-style yoghurt. You could use a homemade strawberry coulis to add some extra flavour to this dish. A nice finishing touch may be to dip the strawberries for garnish in a homemade chocolate sauce! A real taste of summer to enjoy!

Questions?

If you have any questions about this article, contact Vivienne Yeoman at vivienneyeoman@talktalk.net.

This is an article by guest author Vivienne Yeoman, a catering industry expert based in London, England. Vivienne has over 30 years of experience in the catering industry as an Operational Manager. Any thoughts expressed in this article are entirely Vivienne’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Air Culinaire Worldwide.

If you would like to be considered for becoming a guest author, please contact socialmedia@airculinaire.com.

 

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