What to eat in July: Sumptuous Summer Berries

If you are wanting to start eating more seasonally then summer berries are the best fruit to get started on, and July is a great month to do it. We have strawberries, raspberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants, whitecurrants and gooseberries all in season this month!

Raspberries and strawberries are growing in Season Well team gardens, plus gooseberries, blackcurrants in the Incredible Edible Community gardens near us. Look out for berries in community veg beds near where you are and also for raspberries and redcurrants growing in the wild.

Now is the best (and in our opinion the only) time to be buying strawberries and raspberries from the supermarket, market, farm shop and greengrocer. Remember to check or ask where they have been grown. The closer to you they are grown then, not only will they have the least food miles and the lowest carbon footprint, but they will also taste the best as they won’t have been picked unripe and ripened in transit and storage using precious energy and losing precious nutrients.

Did you know that tasteless out-of-season strawberries have a carbon footprint 10 times more than the tastier seasonal strawberries? (How Bad are the Bananas – The Carbon Footprint of Everything by Mike Berners Lee, 2010)

Strawberries are in season from June right through to August so fill your tummies now. For a classic Strawberry, recipe check out our (slightly healthier) version of Eton Mess below!

Another classic recipe for mixed summer fruit is our Summer pudding recipe, thoroughly enjoyed by our Creative Cooking Class for Pioneer Celebratory Arts last summer. It even uses up slightly stale bread so is a winner for reducing food waste too.

Homegrown strawberries really do taste so much better than supermarket ones. For maximum shelf life strawberries headed for supermarkets are picked at only a half ripened stage, when they are still pink. They contain as little as 1% of the aroma compounds of ripe red fruit. So supermarket strawberries are missing out on 99% of the flavour of ripe red fruit (Grow for Flavour. James Wong 2015).

Strawberry plants will give you a good crop of fruit for 3 years (sometimes longer). Plants propagate by putting out runners every year at the end of their fruiting season. These runners each have a little baby plant on them so gardeners often have free strawberry plants to give away each year. Ask your gardening friends or check out our Little Veg Library in late summer/early autumn!

More advice on growing strawberries can be found here. 


Eton Mess 

(Serves 6)

Ingredients:
  • 2 Large punnets strawberries (total 400g)
  • ½ Tablespoon honey
  • 1 Small tub (150ml) whipping cream 
  • 150g Low fat Greek yoghurt
  • 6-8 Meringue nests (homemade or shop bought)
  • Several strawberries for decorating
  • Sprinkle icing sugar 
Utensils:
  • Sharp Knife & chopping board 
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Small mixing bowl
  • Large Metal spoon
  • Fork or potato masher
  • Glass dishes for serving

Cooking instructions:

1. Wash and chop the strawberries. Reserve 6 whole berries for decoration.

2. In a small bowl, mash half of the berries to a pulp and mix in the honey.

3. Whip the cream using an electric whisk. Once thick, mix in the yoghurt using the lowest setting on the whisk.

4. Pour the berry pulp mix on top of the creamy yoghurt.

5. Break the meringue into small chunks and add to the yoghurt mix, along with the chopped strawberries.

6. Mix the berries, pulp and meringue into the creamy yoghurt until they are fairly evenly distributed, but not so mixed in that the swirls of the berry mix can no longer be seen.

7. Serve in pretty glasses or bowls. Arrange a couple of halved berries on top as decoration and dust with icing sugar. Or maybe add a sprig of mint!

Summer Pudding

(Serves 4)

puddings-summer-pudding.jpg

Ingredients:
  • 7 Slices white bread (crusts removed with a serrated knife)
  • 200g Blackcurrants  
  • 150g Redcurrants
  • 200g Raspberries
  • 200g Strawberries
  • 150-200g Caster sugar (depends on how sweet you want it)

Don’t worry about having the right mix of fruit just use 750g of what berries you have. You can use strawberries as well if you have them or even early blackberries. You can use either fresh fruit or frozen fruit

Utensils:
  • 1 Litre pudding basin 
  • Saucepan & spoon
  • Bread knife
  • Sieve
  • Small plate or saucer
  • Cling film

Cooking instructions:
  1. Separate the redcurrants and blackcurrants from their stalks. The best way to do this is to hold the tip of each stalk between finger and thumb and slide it between the prongs of a fork, pushing the fork downwards and pulling off the berries as it goes. Rinse all the fruits. Miss this whole step out if you are using frozen fruit.
Berry Sauce - Once Upon a Chef
  1. Place the fruit in a large pan together with the sugar. Cook over a medium heat for 3–5 minutes until the sugar has dissolved and the juices begin to run (be careful not to overcook and so lose the fresh flavour of the fruit), then remove the pan from the heat. Put your sieve over a spare bowl or pan and tip the fruit into it so that the juice is separate.
  1. Line the pudding basin with cling film as this will help you to turn out the pudding when it’s ready. Leave enough hanging over the edges so that you can pull this over the top of the pudding basin once filled.
  1. Trim one slice of bread to fit the base of the pudding basin, and cut 4 slices in half.
  1. Dip each piece of bread in the juice for a few seconds just to get a coating of juice. Then line the bottom and sides of the basin with the bread. Overlapping the slices at the sides at the straight edge with the rounded side down, and sealing well by pressing the edges together. Fill any gaps with small pieces of bread, so that no juice can get through when you add the fruit. Keep leftover juice for later. 
Summer Pudding With Yogurt | Recipe available here. | Flickr
  1. Pour the fruit in then cover the pudding with the remaining bread and seal with the clingfilm. Place a small plate or saucer (one that will fit exactly inside the rim of the bowl) on top. Place a heavy object (such as a tin of beans) on top of that and leave in the fridge overnight, or for at least 6hours.
  1. To serve, open out cling film then put a serving plate upside-down on top and flip over. Pour over any leftover juice, and serve cut into wedges with cream.

For more from Season Well, check out the links below:

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