Meal planning and Cooking

Love for strawberries

Love for strawberries

Eating with the seasons is especially fun in June when strawberries are in season alongside many other tasty ingredients. Consult the seasonal food calendar for a full indication of what Irish produce is usually available each month.

Strawberries and cream are the typical combination and yes, it’s one that’s hard to beat. We at Stop Food Waste HQ are big fans of the Niki Segnit book The Flavour Thesaurus (2010). It’s biblical in its suggestions for flavour combinations and she proposes some interesting uses for strawberries paired with other flavours. Here are just a few:

Strawberry & almond, strawberry & anise, strawberry & avocado, strawberry & cinnamon, strawberry & coconut, strawberry & cucumber, strawberry & grape, strawberry & hazelnut, strawberry & melon, strawberry & mint, strawberry & orange, strawberry & peach, strawberry & pineapple, strawberry & raspberry, strawberry & rhubarb, strawberry & soft cheese, strawberry & tomato, strawberry & vanilla, strawberry & white chocolate.

This should provide some food for thought!

If you’ve got strawberries which are on the turn, incorporate them into a smoothie, cook them down into a compote, or mix them up with meringues and cream to make a classic Eton Mess (this is also a great way of using up a botched batch of meringues!).

Though strawberries usually don’t come cheap, you may find that the bigger the volume you buy, the better value you can avail of. If you’re lucky enough to grow them yourself, you may encounter a glut. Like other seasonal fruits and berries, one way of extending the shelf life of strawberries so that they can be enjoyed well past their season is making them into jam.

Sugar is the active preservative in jam. Strawberry jam needs lemon juice to be added to release the pectin from the fruit. This acts as a setting agent. Different fruits have different amounts of pectin content. Pectin is a naturally occurring carbohydrate that forms the gel in jam when heated. Pectin is most concentrated in fruit when it is underripe. However, unripened fruits lack flavour. The best time to use fruit for jelly/jam is when it is just ripe.

Making strawberry jam

Disclaimer: you may become hooked on the taste of homemade jam.

To make four 200ml jars, use:

2kg strawberries

1.7kg jam sugar

Juice of 2 lemons

  • Hull and mash the strawberries.
  • Put them into a wide pan. Then add the sugar and lemon juice.
  • Bring to the boil. Boil for 15 minutes until the setting point is reached. The setting point for jam is 105 degrees Celsius, 221 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Jam should be decanted into warm, sterilised jars and labelled.

For more on buying, storing and using up strawberries, check out the A-Z of Foods.

photo by Markus Spisk via pexels