I love strawberries. I really, really love strawberries. To feed my love of these fruits we’ve planted 300 square feet of them in our field.
At this time of year we spend LOTS of time picking them and processing them so that we (OK, I should really have said “I”) can enjoy them all year round.
We have 3 strawberry beds that are all 4ft wide by 25ft long. The only problem is that not only do I love strawberries but so do the local wild bird population.
The 3 beds need protection so we’ve rigged up a hoop arrangement using plumbers pipes, wooden frames to curve then over and bird netting. This lets insects in to pollinate the flowers and stops the greedy birds from guzzling my favourite fruit.
We’ve planted multiple varieties which gives us longevity of fruit from late May all the way to late September but the peak month for picking is always July.
In every bed we protect the fruit by putting a layer of straw on top of the soil. This helps prevent the fruits developing Botrytis Fruit Rot which produces a grey, velvety coating on the berries.
Strawberries bruise very easily so collecting them in deep layers in a basket can damage them. We have this fabulous flower gathering basket that solves the problem. It’s long and shallow so we can get LOTS in a single layer.
You might be wondering why there is a 2nd basket. This round basket is for any strawberries that are already damaged. These go to some very happy chickens as a treat.
How do we enjoy the fruit all year round? We could freeze them whole but we find that some of the flavour is lost and the strawberries have such a high water content that they are “mushy” when they defrost. Instead we dehydrate them. It takes a lot of time but it’s worth it. Each strawberry needs to be sliced into 2-3mm slices before being added to trays that fit in our dehydrator.
Once the dehydrator has completed its magic the 2-3mm slices are wafer thin taking up very little storage space.
The slices are so versatile. We can add them to cereal for breakfast, mix them with yoghurt or even put them through a clean coffee grinder making a strawberry powder to sprinkle over ice-cream.
We also mix other dehydrated fruit such as apple or rhubarb, add hot water and heat it all up to make a great fruit compote. We make pies with it or even eat on its own as a fruit portion in winter.
Last but certainly not least Hugh makes the most AMAZING strawberry wine.
Growing, picking and processing strawberries is effort but well worth it!
If you’re interested in making Strawberry Wine, Hugh made a video on our YouTube channel that takes you through the process step by step.
If you grow strawberries you won’t regret making this delicious wine. Enjoy!