How to Grow Strawberries with 6 Best Recipes

How to Grow Strawberries with 6 Best Recipes

History of Strawberries

For centuries, strawberries have been the most highly prized soft fruit.

A sixteenth-century enthusiast, on tasting his first strawberry, summed up their eternal appeal: “Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless He never did.”

Nowadays, greenhouse-grown strawberries are available all year round, but these fruits are at their seductive best when grown outdoors.

Cultivated strawberries derive from the small wild fraises des Bois, tiny fragrant woodland fruits that grow in all temperate countries and transplanted into kitchen gardens as early as Roman times. By the fourteenth century, the French had become strawberry enthusiasts. Still, it was another hundred years before the first bowls of strawberries and cream were served in England, at a banquet given by Cardinal Wolsey in 1509.

The cultivated strawberries we enjoy so much today were developed in the nineteenth century from small scarlet wild strawberries from Virginia. These were crossed with the larger yellow Chilean pine strawberries, which the aptly named French Captain Frezier (the French word for strawberry being fraise) had brought to Brittany in 1712. Once the perfect balance of flavor and size had been achieved, enthusiasm for cultivated strawberries blossomed, and they remain one of the world’s favorite fruits.

Varieties of Strawberries

How to Grow Strawberries - Wild Starberries

The smallest wild strawberries are the Hautbois varieties, whose tiny red fruits taste wonderfully fragrant. Alpine strawberries are generally a little larger and less juicy, with a highly perfumed flavor. Yellow and white varieties of strawberries look less appealing but have a delicious taste of vanilla.

  • Cambridge Favourite. Medium-sized wild strawberries with attractive color and flavor, this variety is a favorite with strawberry-growers large and small.
  • Elsanta. Largish, firm strawberries with attractive glossy flesh and an excellent sweet flavor.
  • Elvira. These Dutch wild strawberries were developed in the 1970s. The oval strawberries are a deep glossy red.
  • Gorella. A deep red conical strawberry with paler red flesh. This is a remarkably consistent variety.
  • Perpetual & Remontant Strawberries. As their name suggests, these late-season strawberries go on to fruit throughout the autumn. Although they are not as sweet, so are better for cooking than other varieties of strawberries. They can be picked while they are still green and made into jams, sauces, and compotes.

Are Strawberries Healthy?

Strawberry fruits are rich in vitamins B and contain many potassium, iron, and fiber. 100g/2¾oz of strawberries provide fewer than 30 kilocalories.

Folate is a prescribed B-vitamin for women breastfeeding or pregnant. Folic acid in strawberry fruits may support to avoid some congenital disabilities, such as spina bifida.

Potassium can help regulate blood pressure and may even help to lower high blood pressure.

Strawberry fruits are also an excellent source of vitamin C. Vitamin C is a well-known immunity booster and a powerful, fast-working antioxidant. Vitamin C is vital to the production of collagen, which helps to improve skin’s elasticity and resilience. One serving of strawberries contains about half of your daily requirement of Vitamin C.

The antioxidants and phytochemicals found in strawberries may help to reduce inflammation of the joints.

Fiber is a necessity for healthy digestion, and strawberries naturally contain about 2 g per serving. Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best defenses against type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The strawberry fruit is naturally low in calories (around 28 calories per serving) and fat-free and low in sodium and sugar.

eVitamins.com

How to Grow Strawberries?

Strawberries are herbaceous plants that can be grown in the ground or containers. There are three distinct types of strawberry plants: summer fruiting, perpetual-fruiting, and alpine. That can make a difference in how to grow strawberries, but the planting of strawberries is very similar.

Grow strawberry plants in a sunny, warm site. Make sure your soil is well-drained, and if planting in the ground, do not grow in the same area as potatoes were grown previously, as they may pick up a virus from potatoes.

With growing strawberries, you need to keep the fruits off the soil, so planting pots is a good idea. Use a good multi-purpose compost, and put a layer of stones on the top of the soil so when watering, the soil is not splashed onto the fruits. If you plant strawberries in the ground, use a straw or strawberry mats to protect the fruits.

Strawberry plants have a 3 year cycle; the first year, you get a small crop, the second year you get a large crop, and possibly the third year, but after three years, they lose their oomph. So you need to replace your strawberry plants and take runners during the first year to make sure you have a second-year crop all the time. When strawberry plants grow well, they throw out tendrils, which grow miniature plants on end, and they are the runners. When they get to a size of 3 or 4 leaves, then cut off the runner, and plant it in a pot of good multi-purpose compost, and keep well-watered. When you take the runners in the first year, do not let the runner plant crop. Just let it sit and produce leaves. They are called maiden plants; if flowers look like opening, take them off. Don’t forget to label and date your runners.

Remove surplus runners and keep your plants well weeded if growing them in the ground. When watering, do not wet the strawberry fruits, as they will develop botrytis, so use a watering can and gently water near the crowns. Please do not use a hosepipe to spray the strawberry fruits, and disease will follow.

Once the strawberry fruits start to develop and turn red, you will need to protect them from marauding birds, as they notice the red color. Netting is good, but you need to make a cage because if you drape the net over the strawberry fruit, the birds can get to them. Constructing a frame and pinning the netting to the frameworks but taking the strawberry plants into the greenhouse will be even better if you have a greenhouse. They will love a feed, too. Any good plant food will do, but tomato feed is the best.

After the strawberry plants have finished fruiting, you can take them out of the greenhouse and leave them out in the winter. For some reason, if strawberries get an excellent hard frost on their crowns, they will fruit better. If you grow them in terracotta pots, be careful the frost doesn’t shatter them. Strawberry plants are tough and will suffer transplanting and moving about from broken pots to new ones.

You may find that the leaves of your strawberry plants look dead or dying. Do not worry, as they do that, and you only have to take the dead ones off the plant. During the winter, leave them on, as the strawberry plant is dormant, and it won’t hurt it. When you notice new growth in the spring, take the dead leaves off your plant, make sure it is well-watered, and remember to keep moss and weeds off your strawberry plants.

You can also grow strawberries in grow-bags, but make sure you keep them evenly watered and protected from birds and slugs. Grow-bags tend to dry out quickly, so you need to check often and make sure they stay moist.

Buying and Storing Strawberries

How to Grow Strawberries - Strawberries

The Size and color of strawberry fruits are not necessarily indications of quality. Some smaller, greenish varieties of strawberries taste succulent and delicious. Try always to buy locally grown strawberry fruits and check those at the bottom of the punnet, making sure they are not squashed or moldy.

Strawberry fruits should ideally be eaten the day they are bought. If this is not possible, keep the strawberries in the fridge for a day or two, covering them with a transparent film to prevent them from drying out and permeating other foods with their scent. Remove from the fridge at least an hour before you serve them.

Frozen strawberry fruits are never as good as fresh, as the texture collapses after freezing, but they are fine for sauces and ice cream. To freeze whole strawberries, sprinkle with a little sugar, pack in a single layer in a plastic box, or open freeze on a try and then pack in a rigid container. Pureed strawberries can be frozen with or without added sugar.

Preparing & Serving Strawberry Fruits

It is best not to wash strawberry fruits, as they quickly become waterlogged. If they are filthy, wipe them gently.

Ripe strawberries need no other accompaniment than cream or creme fraiche and perhaps a little sugar. Improbable though this may sound, a grinding of black pepper or a sprinkling of balsamic vinegar will bring out the fruit’s flavor.

Strawberry fruits are seldom improved by cooking, although they make delicious jam. They are best used in their raw state in such desserts as strawberry tartlets, shortcakes, and pavlovas. They have an affinity with chocolate and make a fine decoration for chocolate terrines and mousses, or they can be dipped into melted chocolate and served as petit fours.

To “dress up” strawberry fruits, macerate them in red wine, Champagne, or orange juice. Strawberries Romanov’s classic dish consists of fresh strawberries macerated in orange juice and orange liqueur. Pureed strawberries can be served as a coulis or made into ice creams or sorbets.

Strawberry Recipes

1. Strawberry Recipe: Strawberry-Hazlenut Shortcakes with Strawberry Purée

How to Grow Strawberries - Strawberry cake

Ingredients

For the hazelnut shortcake:
4 oz (110 g) hazelnuts
5 oz (150 g) softened butter
2½ oz (60 g) unrefined golden icing sugar, plus extra to serve
2½ oz (60 g) ground rice or rice flour, sifted
5 oz (150 g) plain flour, sifted, plus a little extra for rolling out

For the strawberry filling:
1 lb (450 g) fresh strawberries, hulled, reserving 8 small ones with leaves and stalks intact to decorate
7 fl oz (200 ml) crème fraîche
5 fl oz (150 ml) fresh custard
2 drops vanilla extract

For the strawberry purée:
8 oz (225 g) fresh strawberries, hulled
1 level tablespoon golden caster sugar

Now, in a mixing cup, cream the butter and icing sugar together until it is light and fluffy, then work steadily in the sifted flours, followed by the ground hazelnuts, putting the mixture into a stiff ball. Place the dough in a polythene food bag and let it sit in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. After that, roll it out onto a thinly floured board with a thickness of around 5 mm (1/4 inch), then stamp out 16 rounds by holding the cutter on the pastry and making it a sharp tap, then raise the cutter, and the slice drops out. Now place the biscuits on the baking trays and gently pinch each one with a fork. To begin with the first strawberry recipe, you’ll have to toast the hazelnuts by putting them on a baking tray and popping them in the oven for 5 minutes. It’s essential to use a timer here because it burns very quickly. After that, allow them to cool down and grind in a food processor until they look like ground almonds.

Bake it for 10-12 minutes, then leave it on the baking trays for another 10 minutes before removing it to the wire rack to cool fully.

Place the strawberries in a bowl while the shortcakes are baking, sprinkle with the sugar, and leave for 30 minutes. After that, purée them in a food processor and press them through a nylon sieve to extract the seeds. Cover with the cling film until the purée is needed again.

For the strawberry filling, whisk the crème fraîche in a mixing bowl with an electric hand whisk until it becomes very rigid, then apply the custard and vanilla extract and whisk again, until thick. Then this combination still has to be sealed and cooled before you’re able to eat.

Cut or roughly chop the strawberry fruits, not to mention save 8. Spread the same quantity of cream mixture over 8 of the biscuits, then put the strawberry pieces on top. Spoon a little purée, then a sandwich with the leftover shortcakes. Now may the reserved strawberry on top of each one, half as much as you want, and finish with soft dust of icing sugar.

2. Strawberry Recipe: Strawberry Pavlova

Ingredients
Serves 8-10 – makes 21/2 pints (1.5 liters)

For the strawberry purée:
8 oz (225 g) fresh strawberries, hulled
2 oz (50 g) caster sugar
2 fl oz (55 ml) hot water

For the crumble mixture:
2 oz (50 g) sweet oat biscuits
½ oz (10 g) chopped toasted hazelnuts
1 oz (25 g) butter, melted

For the ice cream:
5 fl oz (150 ml) whipping cream
4 large egg yolks
1 rounded teaspoon cornflour
3 oz (75 g) caster sugar
1 lb (450 g) medium-fat curd cheese
5 fl oz (150 ml) Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Place the egg whites in a big, clean bowl and weigh and prepare the sugar. Now whisk the egg whites so they develop soft peaks, and you can transform the bowl upside down without them falling out (it’s essential, however, not to overload the egg whites because, if you do, they’ll start to collapse). When able, start whisking in the sugar, around 1 oz (25 g) at a time, whisking after each addition until all the sugar is in.

Now take a metal tablespoon and spoon the meringue mixture onto the prepared baking sheet, forming a circle about 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter. Then spoon round blobs next to each other so that they join up to form a circle all around the edge. Now, using the tip of a skewer, make little swirls in the meringue all around the edge, lifting the skewer sharply each time to leave tiny peaks.

Now place the baking sheet in the oven, then immediately turn down the heat to gas mark 1, 275°F (140°C) and leave it to cook for 1 hour. Then turn the heat right off but leave the Pavlova inside the oven until it’s completely cold. It is always best to make a Pavlova in the evening and leave it in the turned-off oven overnight to dry out. The secret of successful meringues of any sort is to let them dry out completely, which is what this method does perfectly.

To serve the Pavlova, lift it from the baking sheet, peel off the paper and place it on a serving dish. Then just before serving, spread the whipped cream on top, arrange the fruit on top of the cream, and dust with a little sifted icing sugar. Serve cut into wedges.

3. Strawberry Recipe: Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

Ingredients
Serves 8-10 – makes 21/2 pints (1.5 liters)

For the strawberry purée:
8 oz (225 g) fresh strawberries, hulled
2 oz (50 g) caster sugar
2 fl oz (55 ml) hot water

For the crumble mixture:
2 oz (50 g) sweet oat biscuits
½ oz (10 g) chopped toasted hazelnuts
1 oz (25 g) butter, melted

For the ice cream:
5 fl oz (150 ml) whipping cream
4 large egg yolks
1 rounded teaspoon cornflour
3 oz (75 g) caster sugar
1 lb (450 g) medium-fat curd cheese
5 fl oz (150 ml) Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

You will also need a shallow baking tray and a 3½ pint (2 liters) polythene freezer box, 8 x 8 x 2½ inches (20 x 20 x 6 cm).

First of all, prepare the strawberry purée. Make a sugar syrup by placing 2 oz (50 g) caster sugar and 2 fl oz (55 ml) hot water in a small saucepan. Put it on a gentle heat and allow the sugar to dissolve completely, stirring from time to time – this will take about 5-6 minutes. When there are no sugar granules left, let it come to a simmering point and simmer very gently for 5 minutes. Now pile all the strawberries into a food processor, add the syrup and blend to a smooth purée. Then strain the purée through a nylon sieve into a bowl to extract the seeds.

Now, to make the crunchy bits for the ice cream, pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5, 375°F (190°C). Crush the biscuits with a rolling pin – not too finely – then place them in a bowl and combine them with the hazelnuts and 1 oz (25 g) melted butter. Mix everything, spread the mixture out on the shallow baking tray, and bake on the oven’s top shelf for precisely 5 minutes: put the timer on and observe because any more than 5 minutes will be too long. Then remove it from the oven and allow it to cool.

Next, you need to make the custard base for the ice cream and, to do this, place the cream in a saucepan and heat gently. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks, cornflour, and sugar together, then, when the cream reaches simmering point, pour it over the egg yolk mixture (still whisking). Return the whole lot to the saucepan and bring it back to a bare simmer, keeping up the whisking until the custard thickens slightly. Pour it into a bowl, cover with clingfilm placed right on the custard’s surface, and leave on one side till cold.

After that, place the curd cheese, yogurt, vanilla extract, and lemon juice in a mixing bowl, add the cooled custard and whisk the whole lot together till smooth. Now freeze-churn the mixture in an ice cream maker until thickened, then transfer to the polythene freezer box and quickly fold in the crumble mixture followed by the strawberry purée, which should form ribbons of red through the ice cream. Freeze for 5-6 hours. Or, if you do not have an ice cream maker, pile the custard and cheese mixture into the polythene freezer box and freeze for about 3 hours. Then whisk again till soft. Re-freeze and repeat the process after 2-3 hours, folding in the crumble mixture followed by the strawberry purée as described above. Return the ice cream to the freezer box and freeze till needed. Transfer to the main body of the fridge 2 hours before serving.

4. Strawberry Recipe: Strawberry Jam

How to Grow Strawberries - Strawberry Jam

Ingredients
Makes 3 lb (1.35 kg)

2 lb (900 g) slightly under-ripe strawberries
1½ lb (700 g) preserving sugar
juice one large lemon
½ oz (10 g) butter

You will also need two 0.5 liter jars, plus waxed discs to seal.

First of all, hull the strawberries and wipe each one with kitchen paper. Then layer them into a preserving pan, sprinkling them with sugar as you go. Leave them to soak in the sugar overnight, stirring everything around before you go to bed.

When you’re ready to make the preserve, put four small plates into the freezer. Place the pan over reasonably low heat and allow the sugar to dissolve slowly. Give the pan a shake from time to time, but only give very gentle stirs, as you want to try very hard not to break up the fruit.

To check if the sugar is dissolved, lift the spoon and, if there are no little crystals of sugar visible on it, the mixture is ready for boiling. Now turn the heat up to its highest setting, add the lemon juice, and as soon as the combination is up to what old-fashioned cooks used to call a rolling boil, put the timer on for 8 minutes exactly.

Then, when the 8 minutes are up, remove the mixture from the heat, put a teaspoonful on to one of the chilled plates, allow it to cool, then push the mixture with your little finger. If a crinkly skin has formed on the jam and there is no liquid left, then the preserve is set.

Allow the preserve to settle for 15 minutes, adding a small piece of butter if there’s any scum, then pour into jars that have been washed, dried, and heated in a moderate oven for 5 minutes to sterilize. Seal immediately with waxed discs, then cover with the lids or Cellophane and elastic bands. Wait until the preserve is completely cold, then label the jars.

5. Strawberry Recipe: A Terrine of Summer Fruits

Ingredients
Serves 8

15 fl oz (425 ml) sparkling rosé wine
2 oz (50 g) caster sugar
2 x 0.4 oz (11 g) sachets gelatine powder
One tablespoon fresh lime juice

For the fruit:
12 oz (350 g) small strawberries
8 oz (225 g) raspberries
12 oz (350 g) blackcurrants, redcurrants, and blueberries – 4 oz (110 g) of each

You will also need two 2 lb (900 g) loaf tins, 7½ x 4¾ inches x 3½ inches deep (19 x 12 cm x 9 cm deep), preferably non-stick but anyway with a good surface.

First, prepare the fruit: remove the stalks and halve the strawberries if they are larger than a quail’s egg. Then mix the fruits in a large bowl, being very gentle to avoid bruising them.

In a small saucepan, heat half the rosé wine until it begins to simmer, whisk the sugar and gelatine into it. Make sure that everything has dissolved completely before adding the remaining wine and the lime juice. Then pour the liquid into a jug and allow it to cool. While that’s happening, lay the mixed fruit in one of the loaf tins – and it’s worth arranging the bottom layer with the smallest, prettiest-shaped fruit as this will be on top when the terrine is turned out.

Next, pour all but 5 fl oz (150 ml) of the liquid over the fruit. Now lay a sheet of clingfilm over the tin, place the other directly on top, then put two unopened tins of tomatoes or something similar to act as weights into the top tin and put the whole lot into the fridge for about 1 hour, or until it has set. Then warm up the remaining 5 fl oz (150 ml) wine mixture and pour it over the terrine’s surface. Re-cover with cling film and return to the fridge overnight to set firm.

When you are ready to serve, turn out the terrine by dipping the tin very briefly in hot water and inverting it onto a plate. Use a very sharp knife (also dipped first into hot water) to cut it into slices. Serve with chilled pouring cream, crème fraîche, or Greek yogurt.

6. Strawberry Recipe: Strawberry Champagne Jellies

Ingredients
Serves 4

12 small strawberries
1 x 135 g pack strawberry-flavor jelly
15 fl oz (425 ml) sparkling rosé wine
little icing sugar, to dust

First of all, de-stalk and cut 8 of the strawberries into quarters, divide them among four 6 fl oz (175 ml) glasses. Next, pour 5 fl oz (150 ml) water into a medium saucepan and bring it up to a simmering point.

After that, take the pan off the heat and add the jelly (broken into cubes), whisking the mixture very briskly until all the jelly has dissolved, then pour it into a bowl and let it cool. Next, uncork the wine, measure out 15 fl oz (425 ml) and pour it into the jelly. Stir once or twice to blend everything, then pour it gently into the four serving glasses.

When the jellies have cooled, chill them (covered with clingfilm) for about 6 hours. To serve, dust the remaining four strawberries with a little icing sugar and put one on top of each jelly.

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