Small but perfectly formed – twelve things to do with alpine strawberries aka fraises des bois
Like quails’ eggs, the whole raison d’étre of the alpine strawberry is its size. As regular readers will know, the Saucy Dressings blog has a firm Life Is Too Short philosophy at its foundation. There seems little point to picking heaps of tiny strawberries, just to morph them into jam. You need to do things with them where their smallness can be appreciated – and this will normally mean some kind of garnish.
And because they a brilliant scarlet colour they are doubly perfect for garnish – I can’t see the allure of the white, colourless variety – a strawberry should be red for heaven’s sake!
The season for alpine strawberries is May to August.
Here is a list of twelve things to do with alpine strawberries:
- In fresh or frozen peas, lightly boiled, with mint and peppery olive oil – a sort of culinary pun
- Another pun – in a salad of fagioli beans, chopped green pepper and spring onions
- To strew over muesli or porridge
- With hazlenuts on salads
- With hazlenuts on crumbles
- As a garnish for roasted duck breasts
- On ice cream, crumbled with amaretti biscuits
- Or on frozen lemon yoghurt, crumbled with amaretti biscuits
- On fairy cakes
- With fromage frais
- Dropped into vodka or champagne cocktails
- Cover the bottom of each ramekin of crème brulée
“Do you remember that kind and beautiful girl in Grimm’s fairy tales, who is driven out by her stepmother to find strawberries in the snow? How she comes to the dwarves’ house and shares her crust of bread with them?
And how, as she sweeps the snow aside with their broom, she finds growing there – strawberries? That vivid image of delight, of fruit and snow against forest darkness, is never forgotten. It’s our northern winter longing for summer, a joy of the mind. And yet, in the sudden snow of winter a couple of years ago, I went to sweep our doorway – and found strawberries.”
Jane Grigson’s Fruit Book
There’s something very fairy tale about fraises des bois (strawberries of the woods). Listen to Stephen Sondheim’s Into The Woods while you experiment.