British berry season has officially arrived. There's nothing sweeter in the summer months than fresh, hand-picked strawberries, raspberries and blueberries.
There are so many reasons to love this time of year, and our naturally sweet, juicy strawberries are at the heart of many of them. Here are eight of our favourite strawberry-related activities to enjoy over the summer months:
Strawberries always seem to taste so much better when you pick them yourself. Many community farms and garden centres across the UK offer visitors the opportunity to go strawberry picking, which is a lovely, wholesome way to spend a summer afternoon with the family.
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Children especially will love moving aside clumps of greenery to search for plump red berries, sneaking them into their mouths as they go. And you can all spend more time together as a family afterwards turning your strawberry haul into delicious treats.
2. Feeling like a gardening expert
If you've been growing your own strawberries at home, then the experience of picking them is even more joyous. In the UK, strawberries are usually ready to be picked around May/June time, and you're allowed to feel like a gardening expert when your crop is ripe and ready to be picked - nurturing a plant to fruition is an achievement you can feel proud of.
When you have an abundance of strawberries, making jam is a brilliant way to use them up, without leaving any of them to go bad. It's relatively straightforward to make your own strawberry jam; remember that you'll need equal amounts of sugar and fruit in a pan, which will need to be simmered together and then boiled until jam-like in consistency for around five minutes.
The trick for testing when your jam is ready to be eaten or jarred is to place a small blob on a fridge-cold plate and press it with a finger. If it wrinkles, it's ready; if not, more boiling and stirring is required.
4. Eton Mess for dessert
Eton Mess has to be one of the most simple puddings to make, but it's at its best during the summer months, when strawberries are at their most ripe and fresh.
The dish's origins hail from Eton College, where legend has it that a celebratory pavlova was dropped, resulting in a right old 'Eton mess' during the public school's annual cricket match.
It's a beautifully light and refreshing way to finish any meal, and it doesn’t matter if you’re not good at presentation!
5. Classic Victoria sponge cakes
A homemade Victoria sponge cake with buttercream, jam and a light dusting of icing sugar is always a treat, but when it's homemade strawberry jam that's in the middle along with a few sliced fresh strawberries, this classic bake is taken to a whole new level.
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It's the perfect cake for a summer birthday or for afternoon tea - or for any other excuse you can conjure up.
6. Refreshing smoothies
Homemade smoothies - especially those blended with crushed ice - are the perfect refreshment during the summer, and a gorgeously healthy way to start the day.
To make a strawberry breakfast smoothie, simply place a handful of strawberries into your blender with milk and natural yoghurt to create a sweet creamy drink that will set you up perfectly for the day ahead. For extra fruitiness, add a banana to the mix too.
Strawberries and cream while watching Wimbledon is a Great British tradition that it simply wouldn't be summer without.
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Whether you're eating yours courtside or tucking into them at home with a liberal dusting of sugar, make sure you have at least one bowl of this glorious treat this year.
8. Smelling that beautifully sweet scent
Of course, it's not just about the way that strawberries taste. They have a wonderfully distinctive sweet smell that makes us nostalgic for summertime picnics gone by.
Opening the fridge to smell that gorgeous strawberry aroma is another highlight of the season, and the Heyland & Whittle Strawberry Candle in a Can allows you to keep enjoying it all year round, long after your strawberry haul has been devoured and you're scraping the remnants of your homemade jam onto your toast each morning.
Packaged in a quirky tin-style holder, this candle is scentsationally sweet and fragrant, making it the perfect addition to your kitchen at any time of year.