By Mike on Saturday, June 28, 2008, 13:04 - Permalink
A trip out to Crab Wood, near Winchester to enjoy a walk in the woods, and to pick wild strawberries.
What Are Wild Strawberries?
Fragaria vesca - a close relative of the cultivated strawberries with which we're so familiar.
The plants are small and easily overlooked - the small fruits are borne on stems that often do not protrude above the leaves - so they can be difficult to spot. In my experience though, once you have found one or two, you'll find more - it just takes a little patience; squat down and let your eyes get the 'feel' of noticing them.
Despite their small size, these strawberries are intensely fragrant and flavourful - nothing like the cultivated kind.
Picking Wild Strawberries
The plant is often found amongst ground cover in deciduous forest - but it will typically only bear fruit when growing in sunny patches - so the edges of footpaths can be productive.
In managed woodland, it may fruit in great profusion in areas that have - in the previous season - been coppiced or cleared for regrowth.
The fruits are small, delicate and easily crushed - they should not be put into a plastic bag - an open, sturdy container such as a plastic pot is better.
They will not survive even the gentlest of washing - so don't try. Pick and transport them carefully, and there's nothing that would need washing off anyway.
In The Kitchen
It's unusual to find wild strawberries in any kind of large enough quantity to make it worthwhile discussing recipes - and anyway, these delicate, fragrant wild fruits need to be eaten fresh and whole - too much fiddling is just an insult to them.
I was hoping we'd find an ice cream van (so we could buy cones and sprinkle them with our pickings) at one of the car parks at Farley Mount, but that was not to be.
So we drove home and on the way, stopped at Twyford stores to buy ice creams - not quite the same with a prepackaged cone, but still, my wild strawberry Cornetto was quite nice.