Small, Red Delicacy: Strawberries

Strawberry is a fruit belonging to the Rosoideae subfamily which can grow in the northern reaches of the earth unlike many fruit varieties of American origin.

A species of berry, the strawberry does not grow on tall trees or bushes as other berries do. To the contrary, it grows on a plant that clings to the ground in a horizontal fashion. Because it grows on a horizontal plane, it requires a large area; for this reason, and because it bears fruit for only one or two months annually and must be rotated every two or three years as it drains the mineral content of the soil, the strawberry is one of the most recent fruits to be cultivated. Techniques developed later on enabled strawberry cultivation on a broader scale. Rods to help the plant grow upward were found to be particularly useful for its cultivation. For this reason, the word “strawberry” is related to how the plant is grown along a thin bundle of straw or a reed.

The fruit’s seeds adorn it like tiny gemstones and offer a tactile crunch when you bite into its juicy goodness. From the 15th century onward, European houses of royalty worked hard to collect cultivars of this miraculous fruit. The status of the strawberry on the tables of nobility thus shot up. Therefore, in Renaissance Europe, it was grown using greenhouse techniques in a manner that changed the nature of the fruit.

The strawberry has served as inspiration to many poets. It has been described as perhaps the most beautiful fruit that God ever created. The allure of its color and its amazing fragrance and flavor aside, even the very image of it in the mind’s eye releases the juices in the mouth that prelude a sudden appetite. Though there are many cultivars of strawberry in the world, the Ottoman strawberry is surely the most important.

In this new season, I wish you an abundance of strawberries and streets filled with the aroma of strawberry jam being boiled.

Strawberry Sherbet (Serves 10)

Ingredients
1 kg strawberries
1 L water
300 g granulated sugar
Juice of 2 lemons

Directions
Wash the strawberries well, remove their stems, and puree them in a blender. Add water, sugar, and lemon juice. Stir until sugar dissolves and cool in refrigerator. Serve chilled.

CHILLED STRAWBERRY MOUSSE

Ingredients
500 g cream
250 g strawberries
3 eggs
150 g granulated sugar
25 g sheet gelatin

Directions
Wash the strawberries well, remove their stems, and puree them in a blender. In a beating bowl, beat the eggs and sugar thoroughly. Whip the cream in another bowl. Combine and mix the egg and cream.
Let gelatin sheets dissolve in cold water for roughly 30 minutes before draining. Over low heat, dissolve the gelatin by stirring. Add the gelatin to the cream and eggs. Add the strawberry puree and stir rapidly. Pour in serving bowls and refrigerate. Serve chilled.

CHOCOLATE-COVERED STRAWBERRIES

Ingredients
½ kg strawberries
100 g couverture chocolate

Directions
Wash the strawberries and dry them with paper towels. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Cover a tray with foil or saran wrap. Holding them from their stems, dip the strawberries in the melted chocolate and line them up on the stray. Cool in fridge for the chocolate to set.

STRAWBERRY SORBET

Ingredients
500 g strawberries
150 g granulated sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
Fresh mint leaves for garnish

Directions
Wash the strawberries well, remove their stems, and puree them in a blender. Add the sugar and lemon juice to the puree and stir. Pour the mixture into the containers of a sorbet machine and put it into a blast freezer. After they freeze, process them through the sorbet machine. Serve in shot glasses with a mint-leaf garnish.