The other day, I received a delicious delivery of Victorian Strawberries to coincide with the start of the Victorian Strawberry Season. As someone who loves to eat fresh produce when in season, these strawberries really demonstrated why we should eat foods when they are in season – because they were DAMN delicious!
I originally thought that it would be hard for our family to get through 18 punnets of strawberries before they started to turn. But upon arrival, the boys smashed through 4 punnets, so I was no longer concerned about whether or not we would get through them all. And more concerned with whether or not I would actually get to cook anything with the strawberries.
Strawberries were first commercially grown in Victoria’s Yarra Valley during the 1950’s. Strawberry production started in this region as migrant families begun to settle on the outskirts of Melbourne, particularly in those areas with rich fertile soils.
Today there is close to 100 strawberry farms within Victoria, and they spread from Portland in the south west to Wodonga in the north east. However the majority of farms, 75 percent, are still located within the Yarra Valley, a short 45 minutes from Melbourne’s CBD.
Back in the 1950’s strawberries were only distributed through the Melbourne market, that was until Gordon Chapman took the first consignment of strawberries to the Sydney market on the back of a basic flat-tray tuck in the 1960’s.
Times have changed and now strawberries are distributed to markets throughout Australia’s eastern seaboard and exported throughout Asia. But unlike in the 1960’s strawberries are now transported in refrigerated trucks so they reach consumers in perfect condition.
Let’s face it, you don’t need to do much to these strawberries. And my boys were completely happy devouring them naturally. But one night I decided to roast some strawberries and rhubarb to have with some vanilla ice-cream and it really was a treat.
ROAST STRAWBERRIES AND RHUBARB
1 punnet of strawberries
1 bunch of rhubarb
1 tbsp of vanilla bean paste
1 tbsp of coconut sugar
Cut the rhubarb into 2cm lengths and quarter the strawberries. Toss with the juice and zest of the orange, vanilla bean paste and coconut sugar. Roast for 30 minutes at 160 degrees. Serve on top of a scoop or two of vanilla ice-cream.
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