Seasonal Eating: Berries bring the taste of summer

Fresh strawberries - a summertime staple
Fresh strawberries - a summertime staple

Conjuring up images of Wimbledon, cream teas and trifles, it’s not surprising that many consider the strawberry to be quintessentially English. But this popular berry is actually native to most parts of the world and has been enjoyed since Roman times.

That said, the English do have a reputation for their expertise in strawberry cultivation thanks to two great botanists; Thomas Andrew Knight and Michael Keens. They worked in the 1800s to develop breeding techniques and grow new varieties and they’re often credited for inspiring other growers to create the different varieties that are available today.

And, as strawberries are grown around the world, they’re available to buy in the supermarkets all year round. Not that true connoisseurs would look outside the UK for their strawberry fix. Unlike other fruit, strawberries don’t ripen once picked and the time they spend in transit does nothing for their flavour. Our advice is to buy strawberries grown locally to you and eat them as fresh as possible.

Here at Mr Pickles’ Yorkshire Food Emporium, we feel lucky to have a few strawberry growers in our county, including the Leeds-based Makins. They supply a selection of major retailers and Michelin-starred restaurants, and the quality and flavour of their strawberries is nothing but impressive.

Makins was founded in 1956 by Edmund Makins and it remains a family business with Annabel Makin, Edmund’s granddaughter, taking control of everyday management. Thanks to the use of poly tunnels, the Makins strawberry season runs a little longer than others as their crops aren’t so dependent on the ever changeable British weather. The end result is a big, juicy berry packed with the flavours of summer.

When it comes to eating, there’s no denying the popularity of cream as a classic pairing, but why not take this one step further and serve strawberries with a young creamy brie? Fresh mint and a squeeze of lime makes a deliciously zingy fruit salad that amplifies the sweetness of the strawberries.

But if they are a bit tart, try a little freshly ground pepper to neutralise the acidity and balance the flavours. Take a look at our blog on our website for more interesting flavour combinations and strawberry recipes.

If you’d like to try the very best fruit and veg that Yorkshire has to offer this summer, head to Mr Pickles’ on Abbeydale Road.

We’re open from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week.