Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Wild strawberries, 2007
Have you ever had wild strawberries*, also known as woodland strawberries? No? Well, imagine the best-tasting, ripe and just-picked strawberry you've ever had, just in a very concentrated form. That's how wild strawberries taste like - like summer heaven :)
In July 2006, K. and I ate wild strawberries to our heart's content; this year we were determined to do the same and even more. In the few hours before St John's bonfire we made a quick trip to our wild strawberry fields. After just about an hour and a half we had about 1 kilogram of tiny wild strawberries between us - not bad at all, considering that we covered a very small patch of land. There were just so many strawberries around.
And here's a tip to any future wild strawberry foragers: make sure to look inside larger bunches of grass and nettles - we found the 'hidden' strawberries to be considerably larger than the ones growing in sunny open spots (I guess constant sunshine - which we've got plenty during the summer - dries them out a bit).
When you look hard enough, you'll see lots of wild strawberries (click on the photo to enlarge).
* I must admit that I'm a bit confused about the relationship between wild and Alpine strawberries. However, based on this Finnish source, I suspect that Alpine strawberries are a semi-cultivated 'close cousins' of wild strawberries (Fragaria vesca L). They're sweet and tasty, but the flavour is somewhat more diluted; they're slightly bigger and more oblong than your average wild strawberrys (see Clotilde's picture here and compare the oblong berries with this round berry here). In Estonia they're known as kuumaasikad alias 'moon strawberries' (Fragaria vesca var. semperflorens, c.f. kuukausimansikka in Finnish, Monatserdbeere in German). Another difference is that whereas wild strawberries only bear fruit in June-July, then you can harvest Alpine strawberries in your garden until early Autumn (hence the English synonyms 'everbearing strawberry' and 'perpetual fruiting strawberry', Spanish 'fresal de las cuatro estaciones'). But, as I said, there's lots of confusion on this matter, so I still need to do some research into this..
By the way - wild strawberries are high in carbohydrates and contain fibre, minerals (iron, magnesium, calcium, among other things) and vitamins (B, C, E vitamins, pholic acid and carotene). So they're not only tasty, they're also very good for you. I've even read that wild strawberry face masks help to reduce lines, but as I so don't have to worry about that any time soon, I just keep eating them for their taste :)
Wild strawberries are best eaten as they are picked, but they also make a lovely jam. BUT - don't try to make a traditional boiled jam with wild strawberries. The tiny seeds outside the berry may turn any cooked jam bitter, and basically spoil it. Therefore wild strawberries are preserved in uncooked, 'raw' jam.
Wild strawberry jam
750 grams freshly picked wild strawberries
750 grams caster sugar
Pick through the strawberries to make sure there are no tiny bugs or ants among them. This is best done by pouring a cupful of strawberries onto a large plate covered with a clean (paper) towel, sorting through and then spooning the strawberries into a large bowl.
Add sugar (take equal quantity - in terms of weight - of sugar to berries) and then stir with a wooden spoon, squashing berries every now and then, for about 20-30 minutes, until sugar has dissolved.
Ladle into small sterilised jam jars and close them immediately.
As this is an uncooked jam, then keep in the fridge or in a very cold larder.
We got exactly 1 litre of wild strawberry jam or metsmaasikamoos - 5 small jars a´ 150 ml and 1 larger jar a´ 250 ml. One of these jars will be waiting for a certain foodblogger who will be visiting in August, the others we'll enjoy with our traditional Sunday pancakes..
WHB: This is also my entry to the Weekend Herb Blogging, this time hosted by Kalyn herself.