British strawberries have a worldwide fan club, thanks to their unique flavour. According to British Summer Fruits, a growers’ association, the berry season officially starts on May 1 and lasts until the end of September. With the supermarkets’ insistence of having soft fruits available all year round, we see them on the shelves all the time, but they’re definitely at their best when they’re from the UK. Many of our couples who decide to tie the knot in the summer season opt to include the delicious strawberry taste into their menus.
Freshly picked English strawberries warmed by the sun might just be one of the best things that we’ve ever tasted. But why? British berry farmers are going against the grain to produce slower growing, sweeter strawberries that lack the uniformity of their mass-produced European cousins. The most popular strawberry variety found in supermarkets is the Elsanta – big, very red and hardy for transportation. Unfortunately they can also be a bit watery and tasteless – hence the suggestion that strawberries just don’t taste as good as they used to. Visit your local market or greengrocers to search out different varieties to find that classic taste. We love Jubilee, Sonata, English Rose and Driscoll Camarillo, but try as many different varieties as you can over the summer months.
For the freshest strawberries, we recommend picking your own. If you’re not green fingered enough to cultivate your own strawberry patch, why not seek out a pick your own strawberry farm? If you’re based in the Cotswolds, we’re a bit spoiled by the number of pick your own farms in the local area, but you’ll find them all over the country. Load up your basket and pay at the end, and try not to sneak too many straight into your mouth in the process. Strawberries keep best when they are cool and dry, so arrange your fresh berries on kitchen paper and store them in the fridge, washing them before eating.
We feature strawberries in a number of our desserts, and we try to keep them as simple as possible to let the summery flavours shine through. We love fresh strawberries with some softly whipped Chantilly cream and shortbread biscuits is the perfect summary to a summer feast. Here’s our favourite recipe for shortbread biscuits.