Strawberry season extends from June to mid-August and now that summer has hit its peak, it’s fun to share the sheer uniqueness of one of the world’s favorite fruits. The beautiful, fragrant and healthy strawberry is more unusual than you would think.
Unlike true berries, like blueberries and cranberries that hide their seeds inside, the strawberry is the only fruit in the world that shows its seeds on the outside. These little yellow ‘seeds’, about 200 of which adorn one strawberry, are actually separate tiny fruits themselves and known as “achenes” (ah-keens). The achenes contain the actual seed of the strawberry and they’re packed with bountiful nutrition and antioxidants.
While strawberries are grown and adored on both sides of the Atlantic and Pacific, the strawberry is often thought of as quintessentially British. There are strawberry patches tended to in most gardens across England and it is believed by some that the strawberry got its name from London children stringing the berries on reeds of straw and selling them at local markets.
And, since the first Wimbledon tennis match in 1877, ‘strawberries and cream’ have been the favorite snack associated with the famed London tournament, with both tennis and strawberries heralding the true start of summer.
British shoppers consume over 19 million punnets (or pints) during the tournament,a similar state-side equivalent per capita to our 190 million pounds of avocados for Superbowl guacamole.
Another beloved Brit, Nigel Slater, acclaimed English “cook who writes” does the strawberry proud with minimal ingredients. Slater advocates “building a meal around strawberries” – they work as appetizers, adorning entrees, and, of course, delicious desserts.
Since we have gorgeous fresh Tristar strawberries from New York in this week, a small deep-red beauty with intoxicating floral notes (strawberries are a member of the rose family after all), we thought we would get in the kitchen and share two of Slater’s very simple, but elegant strawberry treats-only three ingredients each!
a no-churn strawberry ice cream and a warm strawberry quick-set jam.
The results are fit for the Queen of England – and, with a bit more age on him, for newly born His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge!
A Traditional Strawberry Jam via Nigel Slater’s Ripe
Makes 2 pints
- 1 1/2 lbs strawberries (preferably Tristar)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- Big squeeze of lemon
Wash and hull the berries. Put all ingredients into a stainless steel pan saucepan and Break the berries down with your hands or a potato masher to a soft consistency, leaving some of tinier berries whole.
Bring to a low boil and stir for 15-20 minutes until the fruit is soft and translucent and thickens up a bit.
This jam has a low sugar content so it won’t last too long. Store it in the fridge.
Serve warm or cold on top on top of a biscuit or scone. It is particularly excellent on our apricot ginger pistachio scones from Sweetleaf bakery.
It’s true, we took a break from offering ice cream at Manhattan Fruitier until a more sustainable method of shipping becomes available. In the meantime, treat yourself to this recipe that could not be simpler or more rewarding and does not need a special appliance to make it.
A Strawberry Ice for a Summer’s Day via Nigel Slater’s Ripe
Makes 4 servings
- One lb strawberries (preferably Tristar)
- 3 1/2 ounces superfine sugar
- 10 oz. heavy whipping cream
Slice the strawberries and cover with the sugar for one hour. Pulse them in a food processor or with an immersion blender.
Whip the cream. Slater says, “thick enough to lie in folds rather than stiff enough to stand in peaks.”
Fold all ingredients together. Cover, put in freezer for 3-4 hours or until frozen throughout.
Maybe once or twice giving a gentle stir, bringing the outside edges into the middle.
And Bob’s your Uncle!