The best strawberries I have ever eaten were in England. It was the start of the strawberry season and we were not far from the local Pick-Your-Own. Margaret wanted to stock up her frozen fruit supplies so she could continue to make strawberry jam through the winter months. The Princess was still quite young at only four but we figured she would enjoy the outing. So with baskets and boxes in hand we ventured off for an afternoon of picking fruit.
It soon became apparent why the English are obsessed with fresh strawberries. They were large and juicy, and full of flavour. Quite a few found their way into our mouths rather than into the baskets. Yet we still carried home kilos of fresh fruit. Margaret placed the full baskets on the back table whilst she made space in the freezer. Years later I can still picture that sunny corner and smell the incredible aroma that filled the room.
Every strawberry I have eaten since has been a disappointment. The flavour and aroma of those English beauties remains unrivaled. Yet I continue to buy them in hope (and also because Mr Grumpy and The Princess quite like them). Nothing spoils the taste and aroma of fresh strawberries like refrigeration, so I have taken to keeping them on the bench when I bring them home. It then becomes a race to see if we can eat them all before they start to rot.
A few weeks ago Mr Grumpy left town for work, and without thinking I bought my standard kilo of fruit. There was no way The Princess and I were going to get through them all. In an effort to preserve them just that little longer I chopped the whole lot up, tossed them with maple syrup, cinnamon (strawberries pair with cinnamon surprisingly well) and vanilla. I threw them in the oven with no real plan, and allowed them to roast just until the fruit softened and the juices started to weep.
I am a fan of cooked strawberries (dutch baby anybody?) but was unprepared for how good these actually are. This is now my standard treatment for strawberries. Roasted, strawberries last well in the fridge (at least 3 days, if they are not all eaten first) with no impact on flavour. They are ready to be dolloped on muesli and yoghurt for breakfast, or dished up with cream for dessert (I am partial to the latter myself). Whilst they still remain second best to their English cousins, I have found a new way to enjoy strawberries. At least until I get back to England.
Roasted Cinnamon Strawberries
The uses for these strawberries are limitless. Eat them for breakfast on panckaes or waffles, drizzle them over pavlovas or cheesecakes, or serve straight up with cream. The choice is yours.
I use a 22cm sqaure by 5cm deep pan to roast these strawberries. Don't use anything too shallow or they will dry out without producing lots of yummy juice.
- 1 kilogram strawberries hulled and halved (or quartered if large)
- 1 - 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 vanilla pod split and the seeds scraped into the dish
- Cracked black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 200C (180C fan forced)
- Place the strawberries in a large oven proof dish.
- Sprinkle over the cinnamon and a small amount of cracked black pepper.
- Drizzle over the maple syrup.
- Stir thoroughly to combine.
- Tuck the vanilla pod under the strawberries.
- Place the tray in the oven for 15 minutes.
- Remove the strawberries from the oven and stir thoroughly.
- Return to the oven for another 15 minutes.
- Remove the strawberries from the oven and stir again.
- You can eat these straight away but they are actually better the next day.