So anyways, we’re smack in the middle of the strawberry season. But isn’t it just the start of spring? Ah yes, but here on the Sunshine Coast our season runs from May through to October. The first strawberries begin appearing around Mother’s Day and come Melbourne Cup Day they’re gone.
Fun fact 1: Queensland supplies the winter production of strawberries for the rest of the country and most of them (about 85%) are grown here on the Sunshine Coast – although Bundaberg is now also growing strawberries and there are some producers even further up north on the Atherton Tablelands.
We’re lucky – the strawberries that we buy at our weekly farmer’s market haven’t been anywhere near cold storage. They’re low on food miles and taste the way that strawberries are meant to taste. The way they never seem to taste in the city.
Fun fact 2: Strawberries have to be picked when they’re ripe. They won’t ripen any more once they’ve been picked.
Picking your own…
There’s something about picking your own fruit though – and luckily, we have places where you can do that. What’s not to love? Some Vitamin D, the smell of warm strawberries all around, the promise of the freshest tastiest fruit and a strawberry icecream at the end of it.
Fun Fact 3: Technically the strawberry is not a berry, but a member of the rose family. Don’t say you don’t learn anything here!
After we finished picking we went for a bit of a stroll around to check out the views and see what else was growing.
Not only are the strawberries fabulous here, but the ice cream is next-level good. Made on premises it contains about 30% fruit – that’s a lot of fruit.
You can, of course, get a Devonshire tea here as well, but we stuck with the ice cream.
There’s even a playground for the kids.
Open 7 days between June and October. Check the website for dates.
At the time of our visit it was $13 per kilo. You can get them cheaper at the markets, but it’s not nearly as much fun.
With picnic areas, lawns for the kids to run around, a farm shop and a café there’s more to do than pick strawberries – although that’s obviously what you go for.
Open 7 days between June and November. Check the website for dates. At the time of our visit it was $14 per kilo. We picked 2kgs and I bought another 3 kgs of jam strawberries for $5.
For more places where you can pick your own, check out this list.
5 Things to do with strawberries
1.Strawberries in Cassis. When we were in France, we were served this on our first night. It’s quick, easy and super tasty. All you do is hull and halve about 500g of strawberries and tip over a couple of tablespoons of crème de cassis. Scatter a teaspoon of caster sugar over the top, cover it with clingfilm and put it aside for an hour or so. Stir before serving with cream or ice cream.
2. Speaking of which, obviously there’s strawberry ice cream. This is the one that I make.
3. Strawberry ice cream for needy people
This one is a no-mucking around be ready to eat as soon as it comes out of the blender ice cream. You need to work quickly. This also means that your bowls should be in the freezer getting nice and cold and any toppings you want to use have to be ready to go.
Okay, pop 500g frozen strawberries into a food processor with 250ml natural fat-free yoghurt and 1 tablespoon of runny honey.
Whiz it for a few seconds – or until its smooth – and serve immediately.
4. Strawberry Jelly. This is the recipe I use.
This is my mother’s recipe. She cut it out of a New Idea magazine in 1966 so its still all in pounds and not kilos. Not to worry. I bought a box of jam strawberries at Strawberry Fields on the weekend – 3kgs for $5 – and this is what I did with most of them.
What you need:
- 2kgs strawberries
- 2kgs sugar
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 25g butter (optional)
Pop a couple of saucers in the freezer and, if you haven’t already done so, sterilise your jars.
Place the strawberries (hulled and chopped in half – or quartered if they’re massive) into a large pot – you’ll be surprised at how much this makes – with the lemon juice and bring slowly to a boil. Simmer for about 15 minutes until the fruit is soft.
Add the sugar and cook over a low heat until every grain has dissolved. (If it hasn’t all dissolved you won’t get a proper set and you might get little clumps of sugar through your jam – and that’s not a good thing.)
Bring to a rapid boil and boil for about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on it to ensure it doesn’t boil up and over – you don’t want a hot, jammy mess on your stovetop.
Test it by putting a teaspoonful on one of the saucers. Let it settle for about 30 seconds and gently push with your finger. If it wrinkles slightly it’s ready.
Skim the top of any impurities and stir through the butter (if you’re using it). This will help dissolve any remaining scum.
Let the jam settle for 15-30 minutes before spooning (carefully) into sterilised jars.
Note on sterilising jars
You can run them through the hot cycle on a dishwasher and let them air dry or pop them in the oven. Heat oven to 140C/120C fan. Wash the jars in hot, soapy water, then rinse well. Place the jars on a baking sheet and put them in the oven to dry completely – about 10 minutes should do it.
This post also appears on my Sunshine Coast blog…
Okay, it’s Thursday so Lovin’Life link time…you know what to do…