AVA strawberries – manna and ambrosia in fruit form

I jumped on the email that offered to send me some strawberries, then went to Glasgow and left Christopher to wait for them. Last Friday, a basket with over a kilo of AVA strawberries arrived. Christopher promptly – and quite rightly – had a punnet for dessert. The livingroom was still strawberry-scented when I got home.

What’s so special about these strawberries, you ask? What did I do with them? Let me tell you.

There are few things that says summer to me as loudly and clerarly as a strawberry and whipped cream sponge.

There are few things that says summer to me as loudly and clearly as a strawberry and whipped cream sponge.

Strawberry season is a lovely time. Sometimes, though, you pick a punnet in the shop and the fruits inside are disappointing: pale, watery, slightly sour. AVA strawberries are bread for flavour and appearance so are a beautiful red colour and full and rich in flavour. They keep well and taste like heaven. (You’d be surprised how rare it is that something is developed for flavour. A lot of our produce is developed for shelf-life above all other considerations.) These strawberries are grown in the North East of Scotland where the climate is perfect.

As the reading material that came with the fruit pointed out, it’s summer, tennis season and a perfect time for strawberries. Instead of making a strawberry pavlova or a pannacotta with strawberry and mint salsa (thought both sounded good), I decided to go traditional.

Breakfast in pink

Strawberries or breakfast feels decadent. I blitzed 100 grams with 100 grams of kefir, poured into a bowl and topped with cereal and more strawberries. Delicious!

Kefir and strawberry smoothie with cereal and strawberries. Refreshing, sweet and good-for-you summer breakfast.

Kefir and strawberry smoothie with cereal and strawberries. A refreshing, sweet and good-for-you summer breakfast.

Off we went for a day at the Royal highland Show. Where I positively squeaked with excitement at an AVA berry stand. So many delicious-looking fruits – although the strawberries got most of my attention.

A not-so-short strawberry cake

After a busy day out and about, I made a simple sponge cake, decorated with Chantilly cream and almost a full punnet of strawberries. Strawberry sponge is a traditional Swedish summer celebration cake and it’s often served at midsummer. As in Sweden, so in my household.

A piece of strawberry and cream cake. I can't think of much that says summer more loudly to me.

A piece of strawberry and cream cake. I can’t think of much that says summer more loudly to me.

I used my standard sponge recipe but made it with two eggs instead of three (and the rest of the ingredients scaled appropriately).

A glass of strawberry wine cooler

To go with our slices of cake I made a strawberry wine cooler by muddling strawberries in glasses, topping up with ice, pouring over a nice aromatic white, and decorating with more strawberries. It looks very attractive served like that but tastes better vigorously stirred so strawberry juice and wine mixes properly.

Strawberry wine cooler. Cheers!

Strawberry wine cooler. Cheers!

I find that two large strawberries thoroughly muddled, plus four ice cubes, release enough juice that you can top the glass up with wine again once the strawberry has sunk to the bottom again.

You can make a pitcher of cooler, just muddle more berries, and us sparkling mineral water or soda to dilute the wine a little. It’s refreshing and utterly summerly delicious.

Where to find AVA strawberries

AVA strawberries come in three varieties: Star, Blush and Rosa. I found AVA Star in my local Sainsburys and bought a punnet so I could have another strawberry smoothy for breakfast this morning. I’d forgotten just how good strawberries can be. The full, sweet strawberry flavour makes me happy: instant sunshine. As well as Sainsburys, you’ll find them in Aldi, Morrison and Coop stores.

 

Caroline enjoyed AVA strawberries courtesy of Angus Soft Fruits.

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About Caroline von Schmalensee

Cooking, eating and drinking is fun as well as necessary. I do food for fun and I write for a living. Good food makes the world a more delicious and satisfying place. Good writing, meanwhile, can make the world a less confusing place.

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