Strawberries: Our summer’s favourite!

Morgane’s blog about Strawberries

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A little history… 

Humans have known strawberries since pretty much forever, wild strawberries of course – But it is only at the end of the 16th century that plants were introduced in Europe by America’s explorers, such as Jacques Cartier.

Throughout antiquity, strawberries have seen many different uses other than as a food source. For example, it was used as a symbol for Venus, the Goddess of Love, because of its heart shape and red colour. The ancient Romans believed that strawberries had great medicinal value; they used it to reduce the symptoms of varied maladies, from simple melancholy to kidney stones.

The strawberries species we know today are actually hybrid species – this hybridisation is the union of two species of strawberries native to America – union that gave us our garden strawberries.

Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, an antioxidant that is important for the immune system and skin health. They have been used throughout history in a medicinal context to help with teeth whitening, skin irritation, inflammation and heart disease. Their fibre and fructose content also help regulate blood sugar levels by slowing digestion, and the fibre is thought to have a satiating effect.

Did you know? Strawberry is actually not a fruit. The visible yellow “seeds” that dot the surface of the strawberry are achenes. Achenes are actually the fruits of strawberries plants.


How to store strawberries

 

The trick is to keep strawberries cold and dry so they won’t go mouldy.

For keeping a short time: arrange the strawberries – without washing or removing the stems on a paper towel-lined tray and cover with plastic wrap; then refrigerate.

Before eating or using them, wash the strawberries under cool water and then remove stems.

For a longer time; if you want to freeze your strawberries for smoothies or cakes, place rinsed, dried and stemmed whole strawberries, cut sides down, on a greaseproof paper-lined baking tray;

Freeze, uncovered, for six hours. Then transfer to a freezer bag. You can store them in the freezer for up to three months.


Foods that pair with strawberries

 

Strawberries can be used with many different things. They may be eaten whole, sliced or crushed. Strawberries are an excellent addition to fruits salads, ice cream and sorbets. Perfect for summer! When strawberries are overly ripe they can also be used in pies, mousses, smoothies, puddings and cakes! Strawberries pair perfectly either with a bit of sugar, vanilla ice cream or with whipped cream! My favourite way to eat strawberries is with some whipped cream and melted chocolate on top of it!

But strawberries can also be used for savoury recipes -of course! In salads, appetisers, or even with chicken or fish!

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You can actually find some very interesting strawberries recipes on the BBC Good Food site (http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/strawberry) – from the good old strawberry jam to a strawberry and white chocolate mousse cake!


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Strawberries: Our summer’s favourite!

So many ways to use Raw Honey

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Source

Blackman Bee Farm – Hove

So, our honey comes from Blackman Bee Farm where Mickelmus has extended his hives from just his back garden in Hove to all over the city and working with farms in the Sussex region.   Honey is a hard-working ingredient to keep as your cupboard staple and here are just a few ways to use it…

Continue reading “So many ways to use Raw Honey”

So many ways to use Raw Honey

Leftover Light Apple Fruit Cake

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A leftover apple cake that is lighter than traditional fruit cakes – would make a perfect Simnel cake.

I was browsing ways of using up a couple of our Ringden Farm Egremont Russets and Jonagold apples that were a little past their prime and thought I’d make a cake for a friend coming over for supper.  Cake recipes are generally heavy on refined sugar one way or another so we thought the best balance is probably to incorporate more fruit and eat a delicious cake in smaller slices, using the best ingredients possible.

This cake is pretty much a lighter version of a fruit cake, but you could swap leftover ingredients or use whatever dried fruit you have in the cupboard.  It would work equally well with cranberries, cherries or pears.

It’s a nice grown-up kind of cake as well, that would work equally well with afternoon tea or as a delicious Easter Simnel Cake.

One thing is that we don’t eat cake every day – but when we do, it has to taste bloody good. We came across this cake on the BBC site, which with a bit of tweaking became the cake below and it’s one we’ve added to our little black book of cakes to repeat.

The comments on the BBC site said their cake was a little crumbly, so we upped the apple content to give it some moisture (worked brilliantly) and to counterbalance the fat.

It’s a little heavy on the butter side, but we only use Sussex Southdowns butter and this is our small indulgence (Southdowns is a traditionally-made butter that goes off if you don’t use it, unlike most commercial butters which must be irradiated or something…).

We have pinned this recipe in our December notes as it would make a fantastic lighter Christmas cake if you include homemade glacé cherries and nuts.  On the subject of which, if you’re foraging around at the back of the cupboard, then we found the remains of a bottle of Cointreau from the Christmas cocktails and soaked the dried fruit beforehand.

Nick is most definitely not a fruit cake fan, but he liked this as it has a lighter texture and is more moist and plump than a traditional fruit cake without the heavy leaden lining on your stomach afterwards!

Apple Fruit Cake

Ingredients

  • 150g dark muscovado sugar
  • 200g unsalted butter, softened plus extra for greasing
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 large tbsp blackstrap molasses
  • 200g spelt flour
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 2 good size eating apples , grated (approx 120g each)
  • 300g mixed sultanas and raisins
  • A drizzle of Cointreau or brandy
  1. Put the dried fruit in a dish and drizzle over the liqueur.  Leave to absorb for a couple of hours.
  2. Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4.
  3. Butter and line the bottom of a deep, round 20cm cake tin with greaseproof paper. Beat the first seven ingredients together in a large bowl (electric hand- beaters are best for this), until pale and thick. Using a large metal spoon, gently fold in the fruit until evenly combined.
  4. Spoon the batter into the tin and bake for 50 mins-1 hr or until the cake is dark golden, springy to the touch and has shrunk away from the tin slightly. A skewer inserted into the centre will come out clean when it’s ready.
Leftover Light Apple Fruit Cake

Howgate Wonder Baked Apples With Rhubarb

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Of course, we always recommend our Bramley apples from Ringden Farm over near Etchingham – BUT on this occasion we urge you to try the early Howgate Wonders.  When they are picked early they are mild and citrussy but their flavour mellows over time.  They are a different kettle of fish to the Bramley so ring the changes with a traditional Edwardian cooking apple.

This recipe waxes lyrical about eating outside on a summer’s day – but since apples and rhubarb are at their sweetest and best, we will have to sit by the radiator and pretend.

A note about the recipe….we wouldn’t bother with the demerara sugar, sticking as we do to a good local honey…especially a borage honey if you can find it, for the fragrant rosy flavour and aroma.

We also sell delicious creamy yoghurt but the large tubs are generally to special order, as most people prefer low fat, these days.

To overcome this and keep variety in our fridge, we often have a pot of Northiam Creme Fraiche and mix with low fat yoghurt (if we mix it – it’s so rich and creamy, it’s tempting to leave as is)…it gives another layer of tart depth to the flavour which works well with the malic acid in the apples.

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Baked Howgate Wonder apple and rhubarb with vanilla-honey yoghurt

Ingredients

Serves 6

  • 6 apples
  • 150g of rhubarb, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp of muscovado sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 15g of butter
  • 1 tbsp of Demerara sugar, to sprinkle
  • 200g of Greek yoghurt
  • 40ml of honey
  • 1 vanilla pod
1  Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6.
2  Score each apple horizontally to slightly pierce the skin – this allows the flesh to expand while cooking.
3  Core the apples by pushing an apple corer down through the apple until it pierces the bottom, discard the core. Repeat for all apples.
4  Mix the rhubarb, brown sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl. Stand the apples up side by side in a baking dish.
5  Use your fingers to push the rhubarb mixture into each apple, dividing the mix evenly.
6  Add a blob of butter to the top of each and sprinkle over the Demerara sugar.
7  Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the apples are cooked through – you can check this by piercing the apples with a skewer.
8  Meanwhile, split the vanilla pod in half with a small knife. Scrape out the seeds and add to a bowl with the yoghurt and honey, whisk to combine.
9  Remove the apples from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Serve on plates with the yoghurt. Drizzle over the juices from the baking tray.

 

Recipe by Nathan Outlaw – Great British Chefs

Howgate Wonder Baked Apples With Rhubarb

Cooking for Mother? Keep it Local and Seasonal

It’s so easy on the internet to list your ingredients and have at your fingertips a whole load of recipes for every occasion.

So there’s really no excuse to go off course from local Sussex produce on the grounds that ‘there’s nothing to cook!”…

Continue reading “Cooking for Mother? Keep it Local and Seasonal”

Cooking for Mother? Keep it Local and Seasonal

Celeriac – Our Unsung Hero

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Toos’s daughter helping on the farm picking celeriac

Known also as celery root or turnip celery, this is a vegetable is a Mediterranean staple but slower to be loved here in the UK.  But root veg seems to be having a moment this year – the sweet flavours released in chips, crisps and roasted wedges.

We have two celeriac growers…outdoor grown and left to mature in rich soil from Worthing and Biodynamic Organically grown celeriac from Toos in Cuckfield.  Take your pick… Continue reading “Celeriac – Our Unsung Hero”

Celeriac – Our Unsung Hero