Sun ripened hybrid strawberries in season possess an enticing aroma, taste delicious and have a unique texture all of their own. Wild strawberries on the other hand are small more acid than their cultivated counterparts, but more fragrant and flavourful. They are expensive because of more labour involved in picking and their rarity, but if served marinated in Grand Marnier, with a little extra confectioner’s sugar and whipped cream, is extremely satisfying, if not delightfully decadent.
Cultivation of strawberries began in the 14th century, but at first, success eluded scientists. The exploration of the New World gave them two new species that facilitated their research. One specie was discovered in Virginia and the other on the foot of the Andes Mountains.
The French botanist Duchesne, explained in 1766, how he succeeded in creating a hybrid strawberry that was bigger, darker in colour and sweeter than the wild version. Unfortunately, the French revolution (1789) intervened and the research continued in England, where the forerunner of today’s large strawberry was bred.
Since then, numerous strawberry varieties have been bred with longer growing seasons, and berries of different sizes and flavours. New varieties are generally very large, woody in texture, and appear succulent, but lack flavour and sweetness mainly because they are picked well before fully ripe, and transported for thousands of kilometres across the continent.
Strawberry is the only fruit with its seeds on the outside and spreads in all directions.
This popular fruit grows best on sandy, well-drained soil and requires a hot climate for growth. In North America, California is the largest producer, but many other states also produce significant quantities for local and regional distribution.
Canada’s producing provinces are Ontario, British Columbia and the Maritimes. By definition, the strawberry season in Canada is short and occurs around the end of June and during July.
Ripe strawberries possess and appealing aroma, and flavour that is sweet with enough acidity to make it interesting.
should be rinsed briefly, and then hulled for preparation. You can marinate strawberries in Cointreau, Grand Marnier or Triple Sec. Alternatively, serve quartered strawberries that have been sprinkled with granulated sugar, and enriched with Kirsch eau-de-vie topped with whipped cream.
Pastry chefs use strawberries in fruit sauces, for individual tarts, tortes, pies, jams, large tarts and flans. Strawberries lend themselves well fort fruit compotes, on their own or mixed with other berries.
Out-of-season strawberries are imported from Mexico, Central American countries, and even South America.
You can also prepare strawberry desserts with wine qucilly and easily.
Strawberries in Pinot Noir
Yield 8 – 10 portions
I bottle of good quality Pinot Noir
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 ½ pints of strawberries, washed, hulled and quartered
½ cup confectioner’s sugar
1 250 ml container whipping cream
Dissolve sugar in wine. Place fruit in glass bowl, sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar and pour wine over. Cover and refrigerate for
3- 4 hours.
Portion, and drizzle with whipping cream.
1 bottle of Riesling
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp Cointreau, or Grand Marnier
1 bottle of sparkling wine
1 lb strawberries, rinsed, hulled and quartered
Dissolve sugar in wine. Place fruit in large glass bowl. Pour wine and liqueur over strawberries. Cover and refrigerate for at least four hours.
Add sparkling wine just before service.
NOTE: Strawberries can be substituted with raspberries, blueberries or pineapple chunks.