British strawberries were traditionally in season from early June until mid-August, but with the widespread use of polytunnels and by growing a range of different varieties, this season has been extended to the end of September.
The British climate is ideally suited to growing soft fruits and so, in season, buy British. When strawberries are shipped from long distances, the fruit is picked before it is ripe to ensure it does not go mushy in transit and so the texture and flavour suffer as a result. Fresh strawberries are best used as fillings with cream, cream cheeses such as mascarpone or crème patissiere, in pastries, tarts, choux buns, roulades, meringues and cakes. They mix well with nuts, so that shortcakes, biscuits or pastry can be made using, for example, hazelnuts. Strawberries go well with rhubarb, gooseberries, raspberries, redcurrants, passion fruit, elderflower and chocolate among other things.
If strawberries are cooked they release a lot of liquid, so adding a crumble on top helps to absorb some of that. For a different strawberry tart, mix with other summer fruits and cook to release their juices with some sugar. Put into pastry cases and cover with a crumble mix that contains oats and, possibly, nuts. For a summer twist on a winter pudding make a Strawberry and Rhubarb Crumble using amaretti biscuits in the crumble mix.
* Fiona Burrell, co-author of Leiths Baking Bible, from the world-famous Leiths School of Food and Wine