The strawberry season has started and over the past few days, I collected approximately 400g of strawberries. This variety Mara de Bois will keep on producing berries right up until October or first frost. I do not grow many varieties. But I wanted one that was good in flavour and gave longer harvests, not just for a couple of months.
When I took on my allotment plot 5 years ago, I inherited what the previous owner grew; an early variety called Elsanta, really lovely in flavour, but harvests are short (during June and July only).
Whilst doing some research for which variety to grow; I learnt of this Perpetual (everbearer) variety called Mara de Bois, from Gardener’s World. It is a variety that many chefs would recommend too. I just had to purchase a few plants. This variety of strawberry plants are not readily available in Garden Centres, but can be ordered online from reputable companies such as Dobies of Devon and Thompson and Morgan. Buy them as bare roots and you will pay much less than their well established siblings!
On the allotment, one of my projects, is to move some plants from home onto the plot. Plants raised from runners will be planted in a new raised bed later year (around Autumn time).
Once you have a few plants, you’ll never need to buy more plants of that variety again; simply allow the strawberry runners to establish, in the ground or get small pots with compost and allow the runner to establish in the pot. Either way you choose to propagate, cut away newly raised plant away from the mother plant only when its established well (notice new growth if planted straight into the ground or if raised in pots, notice growth and roots are outgrowing the pots).
This amount of strawberries is not enough to make jam just yet. I will have to wait another month before I can make Jam. So what other than smoothies could I make with these? I do not wish to start freezing these berries just yet, too early in the season for stock piling.
When it comes to the herb, Mint, unlike the Strawberries it is quiet the opposite. Take a look in my back garden and you will see my collection of plants is growing. What surprises me is that you will not find any two varieties of Mint to taste, look or even feel the same.
Peppermint: Best used to make tea with. Add a few fresh leaves to brew with a green tea bag, and it will take the green tea flavour to another level.
Spearmint: This Mint, in my opinion, is naturally strong in flavour, best for cooking with, at this time of the year, boil some new potatoes, drain and tossed with butter and sprinkle freshly chopped mint, really elevates the humble spud!
In this recipe, I have used Chocolate Mint. How to best describe it? Close your eyes and take a deep breath of this herb and it will remind you of ‘After Eight’ Chocolate Mints, sweet smelling yet with Mint aroma too. This Mint plant is easily recognisable. The leaves are large and smooth in texture and deep red on the underside. The stem and ‘leaf veins’ are dark almost red in colour too.
Ice lollies are a great way to make children eat fruit. My 3 fruit layered lolly (strawberry, peach and kiwi) always goes down well.
Here is another recipe you could make,it is a little richer in calories than the ice lolly (ok! A LOT richer!!). Strawberry with Chocolate Mint make an excellent combination.
400g Fresh Strawberries
200g Thick Cream
1 tbsp Honey or Syrup (optional)
8-10 Fresh Chocolate Mint Leaves
150g 35% Milk Chocolate (cooking variety NOT eating variety!)
- Hull and chop the strawberries and add to a pan with some bruised mint leaves and your preferred sweetener (optional).
- Place the pan on a very low heat. DO NO BOIL! It will take no more than 5 minutes for the fruit to soften lightly and this also helps the Mint to infuse into the liquid.
- Sieve the softened fruit with the juices and allow to cool.
- Whisk the thick cream. If you prefer you may add some icing sugar to add a little sweetness to the cream. Add to Strawberry Mint puree. Whisk until all combined well.
- Add the cooled melted chocolate and swirl until chocolate is evenly distributed . Do not add all, little at a time. (please note: not all the melted chocolate will be used).
- Whisk the melted chocolate well into the strawberry cream and carefully fill in the moulds. Place in freezer for 1 hour, after which place a lolly stick into each mould.