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
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.