For me, nothing says summer more than the start of the Scottish strawberry season. You can smell this amazing fruit the second you walk through the door of the supermarket. Scotland’s soft fruit production has gone up over the years, doubling over the last decade due to improved technology and the use of polytunnels. Scottish strawberries are very sweet, and the country’s temperate climate allows the berries to have up to 17 daylight hours in June, July and August, but without heavy levels of heat. This allows the berries to ripen slowly, so that they produce more sugar and, thus, a sweeter berry. Scotland produces more than 2900 tonnes of raspberries and 25,000 tonnes of strawberries per year, making it a hugely important crop for the Scottish economy. When you visit Scotland in the summer be sure to look out for this incredibly tasty fruit. I have been making this little concoction for 30 years – a tasty combination of fresh strawberries with a wee slice of the tropics.
500g fresh strawberries
3 passion fruits
1 vanilla pod (split lengthwise) or extract
The first thing is to make the passion fruit, lime and vanilla syrup. Half and scoop the pulp from the passion fruit into a small pot, split the vanilla pod in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and add to the passion fruit. Next, using a potato peeler remove the peel from the lime, and with a knife carefully remove the white pith from the skin. Cut the skin into very thin strips and add to the passion fruit and vanilla, before adding the sugar. Now half the lime and squeeze the juice into the pot. I find if you microwave the lime for a few seconds you get much more juice from it. Pop onto the stove and bring to the boil. Once boiled, remove from the heat. Now you can prepare the strawberries. Be sure to always wash the strawberries before cutting of the stalk – the strawberry is waterproof up until you cut into it, and if you wash afterwards the fruit will just absorb the water and go mushy. Lastly pour the syrup over the freshly prepared strawberries about 20 minutes before you serve them up.