These sweet relatives of the rose begin to peak in June. The varieties on the shelves of supermarkets up until then have little merit, lacking in the one ingredient so vital to their flavour – British sunshine.
The pick-your-own strawberry has few equals, eaten while still sweet and warm from the sunshine. When eating the fruits at home, always let them come up to room temperature – nothing dulls the flavour like the fridge.
These heart-shaped fruits are the only ones that carry their seeds on the outside, and more often than not, they bear over 200. The Romans viewed them as rather a cure-all, believing they alleviated the symptoms of melancholy and fainting, fevers, inflammations, infections, bad breath, kidney stones and diseases of the blood, liver and spleen.
Medieval stone-masons carved strawberries into pillars and altars as a symbol of perfection and righteousness. There are few things so perfect and exquisite as a wild strawberry, always worth snapping up if you see them at a farmer’s market.
In an Eton mess strawberries are an inspired ingredient, while where would Wimbledon be without strawberries and cream? You must go the whole hog too – and make sure the cream is clotted.