Strawberry days

If the first heady days of summertime had a flavor, they most certainly would taste of strawberry. Not just any strawberry mind you, but the perfect strawberry - a ripe little gem picked straight from the plant with the sunshine pouring down on your shoulders and your fingers stained crimson, the far away humming of bees and the heat and the boozy sweet perfume of squashed berries weaving an intoxicating spell around you. When you bite into a strawberry like that – you know that summertime has begun, beyond a doubt. You can feel it.  You have crossed that strange boundary where spring’s sweetness begins to totter into something altogether more complex and provocative and interesting, like the maturing of a fine wine. Summertime.

There is no comparison between that sort of strawberry and the ones you find at the store. True strawberries are not made for supermarkets shelves – they are made to eat quickly and greedily and fervidly before they melt into a boozy mush. A good strawberry won’t last more than a few days. I always forget this in the spring, when the first cartons of California and Florida berries begin appearing and I bring them home, tantalized by the prospect of them. But they always disappoint. They are strawberries made for utility and resilience, not for flavor. They taste like nothing.

So when strawberry season begins, I take full advantage. I pick until my husband has to drag me away. I freeze them. I make jam. I eat more strawberries in a day than anyone rightfully should. I put them in muffins, slice them over my cereal, macerate them in sugar, blend them into smoothies. I had to make this and this of course, and strawberry shortcake, and this. And who could resist that? I eat them until I begin to almost sicken of them - almost – which is about when the season is whittling down anyways. Because I know deep down that this is my one chance in the year to really experience the sensation of summer melting into my tongue. The chance to eat a strawberry that tastes like a strawberry, and to make the world stop and fill my head with sunshine and blue skies and days that never seem to end.

Here is a recipe that I felt brought out the strawberry’s full potential in a simple, elegant way. It combines two of my favorite fruits – strawberries and peaches – with a warm, sophisticated drizzle of balsamic and a beautiful scattering of fresh rose petals that just combines everything good about this time of year. I hope you enjoy it – strawberry season is beginning to wind down, so do be sure to properly gorge yourself this next week, and enjoy the sweet taste of summer before it all to soon begins to slip away.

A Salad of Strawberries, Peaches and Rose Petals

Serves 4

A simple and elegant desert to enjoy as is, or spoon over something delicious like ice-cream. You can use wild or cultivated roses from your garden for this - I happen to have the most beautiful little rugosa rose bush that I discovered hiding in the weeds last summer, so I used the bright fuschia petals of that, which are lightly fragranced and beautifully stunning scattered over the fruit. You might wish to double the syrup amount to have on hand for other things - sweet and fragrant with a touch of warmth from the pepper - it makes a wonderful topping for ice-cream, even pancakes. If you don't have a vanilla bean handy just add a tablespoon of vanilla extract to the dressing.

Ingredients

  • 2 perfectly ripe peaches, sliced into thin segments
  • 1.5 cups strawberries, sliced into thin segments
  • the petals of one rose
  • For the dressing:
  • 1/2 cup aged balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon unrefined cane sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 teaspoon rose water
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Place the balsamic vinegar and sugar into a saucepan. Slice the vanilla bean in half, scrape the seeds from the pod and add them to the pan, and then add the pod itself. Turn on the heat and bring to a boil, letting the syrup concentrate and reduce, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced by half. Remove from heat and let cool slightly before removing the vanilla pod and adding the teaspoon of rose water.
  2. While the syrup is cooling, arrange the sliced fruit onto two plates however you like.
  3. Drizzle the syrup generously over the fruit, and then finish with a sprinkling of rose petals.

Comments

  1. musingmar says:

    Beautiful post! Fresh strawberries are such a gift from nature!

  2. trialsinfood says:

    oh no, please don’t tell me strawberry season is winding down! i was hoping to go do some picking at the end of the week. your strawberry and peach salad looks yummy!

  3. Roses from the garden are safe to eat? I have always been wary of this.

    • Danielle Charles says:

      They are quite safe to eat so long as they have not been sprayed with chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Some will be more fragrant than others so optimally you would want to select one with highly fragrant petals, though even less fragrant varieties will still add a lovely visual appeal. And a good side benefit is that they sre quite high in antioxidant flavaoids such as you find in tea – so they are not only beautiful and fragrant but good for you as well!

  4. Cathy says:

    You’ve summed it all up perfectly: strawberry season as it should be! Lovely post and recipe, and great links too. Thanks!

  5. Rashmi says:

    You’re a poet. I went strawberry picking for the first time last week, and I know exactly what you mean! Love ‘em!

  6. putneyfarm says:

    Lovely photos and recipe. We certainly feel the same way about the strawberries…And not all California strawberries are bad (just the ones that ship out of state…;-)

  7. Such gloriously eloquent poetic exaltation of a most sublime little fruit, whose seeds happen to reside on the outside.

  8. Wow! Roses is a strawberry salad. It amazes me! I live in a part of the world where strawberries are really rare…how lucky for you! Looks beautiful, bet it tastes beautiful too. Too bad I can’t taste it. Too good you’re there to describe everything to me. =>

    • Danielle Charles says:

      I’m sure you have other delicious fruits that I can’t even imagine where you are! What part of the world are you from? I hope you do get to try a strawberry someday, though. An experience everyone should have :)

  9. Nothing can beat freshly picked home grown strawberries.Often the ones in the supermarkets dont have the same taste as fresh home grown ones, usually they are more watery.

    Great Post!

  10. What a beautiful post! As you can probably tell from my blog – I’m currently in love with strawberries :D

    • Danielle Charles says:

      They are easy to be in love with, aren’t they! I will head to your blog immediately to check out what you like to do with them :)

  11. What a wonderful “Strawberry Fest/Feast” indeed and all as it should be…consuming the fruits of nature when they are in season..beautifully shared…Thankyou

  12. Lucinda says:

    Oh yum, yum, yum and yum. This salad sounds exceptional, such an interesting mix of flavours.
    Strawberries are divine aren’t they. I often think of how our ancestors, with so little sweet foods available to them, must have felt coming across a big patch of wild strawberries or raspberries, it must have seemed like heaven! As it still does. :)

    • Danielle Charles says:

      So true. Treasures from the wild. The wild berries are always the best, aren’t they? But the fresh in season berries are a close second :)

  13. Thanks for the lovely photos and commentary. It is so true. This morning I had fresh-picked strawberries from my sister’s garden. They were exquisitely sweet and flavorful!

  14. Food for thought in your thoughts about food. ;-)

    I need to be taking better advantage of the strawberries this season.

    Michael

Trackbacks

  1. [...] with other edible flowers. Danielle at The Teacup Chronicles recently posted a recipe for a strawberry and rose petal salad which looked [...]