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!


Visit us at www.finandfarm.co.uk

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Strawberries: Our summer’s favourite!

Visit to Tibbs farm!

Morgane, our intern, is doing the rounds of visiting our customers and growers to get an idea of how food works in Sussex, from her Parisian point of view.  Here’s her first interview with Robert from Tibbs Farm, at Udimore, who grows our delicious summer fruit.

Morgane’s interview with Robert at Tibb’s Farm (June 2016)

Muir and I went to visit Tibbs farm, in Udimore, East Sussex. At the moment they are growing mainly strawberries and gooseberries but other summer fruit will come soon. They specialise in “pick your own fruits”.

We met Robert Wheeler there, owner of the farm. He showed us round his farm, where he grows all the delicious fruit bushes. I had the opportunity to interview him.

 

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Could you please tell me the story of your farm? And how did you become a farmer?

So I’m from a farming family going back a long time. We’ve been growing hops for six generations. So I’m a sixth generation hop grower, so that goes back to the 1790s. My immediate farming family also goes back a long time. My father came here in 1956 and this is where I work now. That’s how I became a farmer.

Why did you choose to follow the family path? Did you have the choice to do something else?

I certainly once had a choice. I went to university and could have got a job but farming is a way of life, isn’t it, so that is why I wanted to become a farmer.

What fruit do you produce?

Well we have strawberries, loganberries, blackcurrants, gooseberries and redcurrants and further on we grow raspberries as they’re quite popular fruits.  Later on, we also have blackberries.  We grow our fruit – on this sloping bank for drainage and easy access.

Do you have pickers to pick your fruits?

Yes, we have pickers in for that. We try not to waste any, that’s the point. Nobody likes waste, so we do pick quickly.  There are some fruits whose shelf-life is very short, like loganberries, and if you don’t pick them when they’re ready, after a day, they go mushy and juicy, and must be thrown away.

When do you grow?

We are now so used to seeing strawberries in shops all year around. You have them in glass- houses and you have them from South Africa or anywhere you like, they’re all coming but flavour is best when they are properly grown in season. So, you can have strawberries all year around. But the traditional way in this country; they start about June-July, and that is the peak season for strawberries.

And here, we grow them in the ground without cover, so we don’t force them to come early and we don’t try to make them come late.  We choose different varieties so the season can last as long as possible.

How do you treat your fruit?

We try to be as organic as possible. We just have to make sure we don’t have disease problems. There are aphids and other insects, but we live with them!

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Come and visit us and see our online shop at www.finandfarm.co.uk

Click on Delivery to see if you are in our delivery area.

If not, then hopefully at some point we can deliver to you!

Visit to Tibbs farm!