Straw­berry fields for­ever

They’re de­li­cious and juicy and sig­nify spring is here. Check out the fruit at the Stel­len­bosch Slow Food Mar­ket, writes Bianca Cole­man

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

PLUMP, red and sweet – it’s im­pos­si­ble to re­sist a straw­berry, es­pe­cially as they are syn­ony­mous with sum­mer. This lus­cious fruit is be­ing cel­e­brated at the Stel­len­bosch Slow Food Mar­ket to­day with so much more than just freshly plucked berries.

“Vis­i­tors can ex­pect straw­berry cock­tails from Dr Juice, straw­berry tea and even straw­berry bread from Fine Pas­tries,” said Dr Gail Blake, owner of the mar­ket.

“Na­tive Cho­co­lates will pro­vide straw­berry cho­co­late de­lights and ev­ery­one should try our straw­berry burg­ers from Flamed. And, of course, there will be straw­berry fudge, straw­berry sushi and even straw­berry liqueur from Kaapse Liqueur. Ol­lie’s Sausageswill also be sell­ing a uniquely cre­ated straw­berry sausage. And that’s only a hint of what can be ex­pected.”

Straw­berry farmer Deonette Bour­bos-Left­ley, who has been grow­ing the ruby red beau­ties for more than 31 years on her 24ha farm in Paarl, said: “Our straw­ber­ries are grown with love and de­liv­ered with pride. They are ripened by the sun and, there­fore, are plump and sweet and last longer.”

Bour­bos-Left­ley farms with five va­ri­eties – Fes­ti­val, Hon­our, Virtue, Mon­terey and Com­mit­ment and en­sure that six hours after pick­ing the straw­ber­ries they are at the mar­ket or other clients.

We asked her some straw­berry ques­tions:

How did you be­come a straw­berry farmer?

“I never thought that I would be­come a straw­berry farmer 31 years ago. At the time, I was work­ing for an oph­thalmic sur­geon. It was by chance that I met a young upcoming straw­berry farmer. Soon after we were mar­ried, and two sons later we started our straw­berry en­ter­prise with in­spi­ra­tion, with en­thu­si­asm. To­day we are knowl­edge­able and suc­cess­ful straw­berry farm­ers. Our straw­ber­ries are ‘ grown with love, de­liv­ered with pride’ – our slo­gan.”

Tell us a bit more about the dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties and their char­ac­ter­is­tics?

“Hon­our is big, de­li­cious and plump and a bit firmer than its lovely cousin, Com­mit­ment. Fes­ti­val again is longer in shape and Virtue is rounder in shape. They are all sweet and juicy and ripened in the sun. Some straw­ber­ries are more firm and fleshy while oth­ers are softer eat­ing on the pal­ette.”

“All of our straw­berry va­ri­eties are used to sup­ply freshly picked pre- packed prod­uct to lo­cal su­per­mar­kets. We also de­liver to fac­to­ries for jam, pulp, juice, yo­ghurt and also for freez­ing.”

What are some of the more un­usual uses for straw­ber­ries?

“Un­usual ways to use straw­ber­ries are straw­berry wors (Ol­lie’s at the Stel­len­bosch Slow Mar­ket are the best), straw­berry salsa over pork chops or a straw­berry coulis with veni­son. Also, use it as a face­mask – the al­pha- hy­drox­ide acid con­tained in each straw­berry helps elim­i­nate dead skin cells and cleanses the skin. Crush a few straw­ber­ries fine with the back of a fork, add a ta­ble­spoon of honey – put on your face, leave for 15 min­utes and rinse. “Good pair­ings for straw­ber­ries are wa­ter­melon, beet­root, feta cheese, black pep­per and bal­samic vine­gar.”

What is your favourite straw­berry dish or drink?

“Def­i­nitely my straw­berry daiquiri. Just blend some straw­ber­ries, gin and vodka, pour over crushed ice and serve with a chif­fon­ade of mint leaf on top.

The fes­ti­val and mar­ket are open from 9am till 2pm, at the Oude Lib­er­tas Es­tate in Stel­len­bosch on the cor­ner of Oude Lber­tas and Adam Tas roads. For more in­for­ma­tion, go to www.slow­mar­ket.co.za or call 021 886 8514.

Cyn­thia Msind­wana is a sea­sonal straw­berry picker on Vre­den­burg Farms, Paarl.

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