Let’s Talk Strawberries!

In the UK it is currently strawberry season (from end May to July) and although the season is relatively short, strawberries feature heavily in the British eating and drinking calendar – from strawberries and cream at Wimbledon to strawberry jam making; from strawberry teas to strawberry cider! 

Famous UK jam and marmalade manufacturers, Wilkin & Sons of Tiptree, are well known globally for their famous Tiptree jams – I have travelled to far flung places and seen pots of Tiptree Little Scarlet Strawberry jam served at breakfast.  They have been jam & marmalade manufacturers, fruit and arable farmers since 1885. I live not far from Tiptree and Wilkins have purchased farms in my village since 1920 to grow strawberries and other fruits for their range of jams, curds and ketchups.  The farms have produced a mixture of fruit crops over the years: large strawberries (as shown in my photo), little scarlets, gooseberries, red & blackcurrants, plums, greengage, damsons & morello cherries – all picked by local village people and seasonal helpers and transported the 3 miles or so to the jam factory at Tiptree.  The factory is a great place to visit – it has an interesting museum, a gift shop/food shop  and a restaurant/tea room. 

Why is the Tollesbury/Tiptree area ideal for strawberry farming? Tollesbury claims, along with Great Wakering, to have the lowest rainfall in Britain, has more than 1600 hours of annual sunshine and regularly claims England’s top temperature (along with Southend) at least once a week during the summer months.  Thunderstorms occur on average 15 – 18 days a year, which can often cause damage to the fruit crops – although sometimes they are just lightning storms and the rain doesn’t materialise – I have experienced severe thunderstorms in Tiptree which have bypassed Tollesbury 10 minute drive away!

Technically, strawberries are not actually fruits because their seeds are on the outside and the fruits are not produced by seeds. Strawberry plants are actually members of the rose (rosaceae) family.  Each strawberry has on average 200 seeds. 

The modern garden strawberry popular in Europe was actually introduced into Europe by a French engineer in 1714, who, on a trip to Chile and Peru, was so impressed by the size of the strawberries in that region, that he brought back plants to cultivate in France.  Historically, strawberries were always considered an aphrodisiac and were often often served at a wedding breakfast with soured cream!

Nutritionally, strawberries are an excellent source of vitamins C and K, as well as providing a good amount of fibre, folic acid and potassium. Strawberry leaves can be eaten raw, cooked or used to make tea.  Once picked though, unlike bananas, they do not ripen any further – so any strawberries that are dull, or have green or yellow patches are probably best avoided.

Medically, they have been used to help with digestive ailments, teeth whitening and skin irritations.  Unfortunately, they are a common allergen – especially if you are already allergic to birch pollen, as you are more than likely to develop an allergy to strawberries.  I do suffer from hay fever caused by birch pollen but thankfully, strawberries haven’t given me a reaction ( although raw tomatoes do!) 

My favourite strawberry recipe is : Strawberries dipped in dark chocolate.  My favourite strawberry sandwich idea:  slice of wholemeal bread generously spread with soft cheese (Philadelphia style) topped with chunky strawberry jam.  Strawberries & Cream lunchbox style. My favourite strawberry based drink:  Iced Strawberry Cider…. cheers!

Do you love strawberries?  Do share your favourite strawberry dishes!

Linda x

All photos are by Linda Hobden

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32 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Strawberries!”

    1. I slice fresh strawberries on top of my bran flakes in the morning – certainly they are a scrumptious way to start the day 🙂

  1. I love strawberry season sooo much!
    It seems to be a little later in Canada than the UK so they haven’t quite got to the truly tasty time of year here.

    In Japan spring is strawberry season (I suppose because summer is too hot!?) but in some places you can buy GIANT strawbs as big as the palm of your hand. I love those ones!!

    I don’t they need anything. Just eat them as they are and smile.

    1. The sandwich is really scrummy – especially if you use real strawberries with the cream cheese or jam with whole or halved strawberries – the no bits jam just doesn’t do it justice! 🙂 Enjoy & let me know your verdict Sue! 🙂

  2. My favourite pudding is strawberry pavlova – home-made and preferably with strawberries from our garden. I grow “Mara des Bois”, small but very sweet.

  3. Our strawberry season is the same as yours, maybe peaking a bit more towards the end of June. We used go pick them, then make jam. It was so fun, and yummy but SO hot!! We switched to blueberries, and pie lol.

    1. Gooseberries and gooseberry pie is another favourite in my region – and in August/September it’s time for blackberry picking. We used to gather walnuts too but we no longer have a walnut tree – we do still have a pear tree though 🙂 Picking strawberries is certainly hard work but we do get “holiday pickers” who stay for the summer in our village and spend their vacation fruit picking on our farms.

  4. We have a farm nearby here in Iowa that has amazing pick-your-own strawberries but they haven’t had much rain this yes so it was kind of a bust 🙁

    Everything in your post looks amazing!

  5. Strawberry season is on now in Oregon! I made strawberry salad today with iceberg lettuce, sliced almonds, kale, sesame seeds, a few raisins, sliced strawberries, celery diced, balsamic vinegar and poppy seed dressing! So fresh and crunchy and sweet! SUMMER! YES! Fun to read here about strawberries grown and enjoyed in another area of the world!

  6. I love strawberries and this is the season in Connecticut as well. I love them fresh best with no adornment. Not much of a fan of them dipped in chocolate. (But, please note, my husband and I used to own a chocolate shop. And those were big holiday requests—I’m so over that. I’d rather have a chocolate covered cherry, never got over that.)

    1. Not tried chocolate coated cherries…yet! To be honest, 99.9% of the time I eat my strawberries unadorned too 🙂

  7. It’s funny just yesterday my kids were enjoying a pile of strawberries when my grandmother who is nearly 90 shouted out to them to NOT eat the leaves. I didn’t argue, no need to be snippy with her, but I did take a moment to consider, I think I need to reread Linda’s post, I think she had something in there about even the leaves being great for you.

    I have never thought of using the leaves for tea, how fascinating.

    1. I was told that the leaves are edible but to be honest I always discard them! I think using the leaves to make a tea infusion is a better idea than eating the leaves outright!

  8. I used to love going strawberry picking as a child. My mum loves them. I eat strawberries, but they’re far from my favourite fruit. The kids really like them though.

    1. I used to love going blackberry picking as a child and still do. I think the natural sweetness and size of strawberries makes them a popular fruit amongst children.

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