As the days get longer and warmer, we’re slowly moving into Tasmania’s peak fruit season. The first fruit of the season every year is the strawberry, and we’re lucky enough to have access to the best-tasting strawberries, grown in Cygnet by David Jennings & family since 1983! Whilst many berry farms opt for poly-tunnel systems, David’s strawberries are grown out in the open, with the runners poking through black plastic sheeting that keeps them nice and warm from spring until autumn, whilst also naturally reducing weed growth and ensuring the food and water they need isn’t lost to the elements.
In the history of fruit cultivation, strawberries are a relative newcomer – the commercial strawberry wasn’t developed from its wild cousins (which are actually related to roses) until the 1700s. We taste with our noses, and the fragrance of strawberries is particularly intense and also quite complex; whilst strawberries are best kept refrigerated to keep them fresh (and eaten as quickly as possible, which generally isn’t a challenge…), the full flavour is best appreciated at room temperature, which increases the sweetness and also the dissipation of the molecules that make up the delicious aroma. However, if you’re keen to add to the flavour picture, one of my favourite ways to enjoy strawberries is to steep them in sugar (this draws out the juices and obviously adds sweetness), and then quickly heat them (including the juice) in a pan with a little balsamic vinegar and plenty of black pepper.