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Eating In: Do your strawberry duty!

18 June, 2020 — By Tom Moggach

IT’S our civic duty, as the politicians might say, to gorge on a glut of strawberries.

In fields across the country, plants are drooping from the weight of their unpicked fruits, glistening in the summer sun.

Demand has dipped and growers are struggling to pick their crops, as they normally rely on migrant labour. Our government has urged furloughed workers to step in to fill the gap, exhorting them to “Pick for Britain”.

Strawberries and cream, of course, is a classic combination. But there’s so much more you can do with this juicy fruit.

To fire up the flavour, chop the fruit into halves or quarters and dust lightly with caster sugar.

As a next step, experiment with adding a tangy sour note: a few drops of lemon juice, pomegranate molasses or vinegar – ideally red wine or balsamic.

Believe it or not, strawberries also pair amazingly well with basil. Try serving the fruit with a scattering of basil leaves, torn into smaller pieces if large. (Never cut basil with a knife).

If you’re making a fruit salad, another trick is to marinate the fruit first to add layers of flavour. First make a light sugar syrup by dissolving caster sugar in an equal weight of water over a gentle heat. You can add your favourite spices at this stage, such as cinnamon, cloves or cardamom. Citrus zest is also a good bet.

Let the syrup bubble until reduced by half and allow to cool, then finish with a squeeze of lemon juice. Pour this syrup over your chopped fruit around half an hour before serving.

If you’re cooped up with fidgety children, then strawberries can also be your saviour. For a creative project, dip the fruits in molten chocolate and roll in toppings such as crushed nuts, chopped cranberries or dried coconut. Start by carefully chopping chocolate into even-sized pieces, then melt by putting in a heatproof bowl slotted over a saucepan of simmering water. (The adult should do this stage).

The children can dip the fruit in the chocolate and roll it in any of their extras, before leaving on a sheet of greaseproof paper to harden. You can also make simple strawberry lollies by blending the fruit with double the weight of yoghurt and a little sugar to taste, then pour into lolly moulds and freeze overnight.

Later today, I’m off to do my strawberry duty. It’s the opening day for a pick-your-own fruit farm – the ideal excuse to combine daily exercise with a little outing.

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