We don’t have a field of strawberries but we do have several pots, a hanging basket or two and a patch of alpine strawberries in our cottage garden. During the second week of the Wimbledon tennis championships it’s only natural that thoughts turn to strawberries – delicious and good for you, containing, as they do, potassium, vitamins C and K, fibre, folic acid and manganese. Reputed to help with digestive ailments, teeth whitening and skin irritations as well as helping to regulate blood sugar levels by slowing digestion Even the leaves can be eaten raw, cooked or used to make tea. I’ve known some people to be allergic to strawberries but the white varieties seem to be acceptable even to these poor folk.
Strawberries make their claim in history as a luxury item enjoyed only by royalty although they are readily available all year round now. As a child we enjoyed tinned strawberries and cream on a Sunday afternoon and thought it the height of decadence. Truly, I can’t remember when I last had a tinned strawberry or visited a strawberry fruit farm as we used to for a bumper batch of strawberry jam making.
We had a large punnet which needed using up and I decided to give a batch of spicy strawberry chutney a go at the weekend. At first this seemed all wrong. I’ve only ever eaten strawberries for pudding but I’m game for rebelling from time to time.
I added a bottle of red wine vinegar and 500 g brown sugar to about a kilo and a half of hulled and quartered strawberries, 2 red chillies, 3 red onions, 3 cloves of garlic and a knuckle of ginger – all minced and a good handful of pink peppercorns, mustard seeds, cumin seeds and coriander seeds.
I boiled it up and then simmered for about an hour until a wooden spoon drawn along the base of the preserving pan left a trail for a few seconds.
Then spooned into sterilised jars.
I may make another batch this week – some of which will find it’s way into this year’s Christmas hampers – a reminder of high summer.