An orgy of Strawberries………….

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Dunleath Estates used to grow strawberries commercially and they always came into season around now. After some years of being hooked in with a supermarket there was no way for the company to make a profit. So we stopped the commercial production and moved a small proportion of it to the Walled Garden. Above you see our second significant crop this season. Abour 25 pounds. What would you do with this size glut? Well, we eat strawberries for breakfast and for dessert every day while they are in season, we have a few private clients, but BD also makes jam.

We also used to have a PYO operation for which I researched and wrote a little Ballywalter Park Strawberry Cook Book, just to show that there are lots of imaginative things you can do with strawberries apart from eating them with sugar and cream. Researching the origins of the varieties we eat now was probably the best bit. It basically showed that every region had its own hybridised version which was suited to the local climate. It stands to reason that a Kentish strawberry will have a different climate to the ones grown in Co. Down. The reason supermarket strawberry has little taste, is that they have been hybridised to be able to stay fresh looking despite long chilled journeys, it has to be quite big, really red and shiny. Flavour is a secondary requirement. We used to be able to grow our El Santas with great flavour, this is quite a skill I tell you.

Now we grow other varieties that stretch the season and the flavour of these are much better, but only we, a few special clients and our corporate guests get the benefit. When there is a glut like this one BD gets going on the Ballywalter Park House Strawberry Jam. He is a master jam maker with total control over colour, texture and set. Just look at the colour!

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Potting up jam is done with military precision because they will be for sale, so must be exactly 1 metric pound or 454grams. Below you have a Regiment of newly made strawberry jam ready to be labelled and boxed.

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