On a local group on Facebook yesterday someone was asking how to keep strawberries for longer. I have to say, it’s not a real problem in our casa; we love strawberries and even the big 2 kilo cartons usually disappear pretty quickly, even though there are only two of us in residence. In fact, the box is usually considerably depleted by the time it gets back from the market!
One of the tips was to always store the fruit in glass jars rather than plastic, then keeping them in the fridge. I’ve had success with spreading out the fruit on a single layer over a wire grid on a baking tray in the fridge, but the best tip I ever heard came from a Spanish lady soon after I moved to Spain 15 years ago. And it involves alcohol, although not too much.
My friend told me the best thing to bring out the flavour in strawberries, as well as keeping them in good condition for longer, is to sprinkle them with moscatel wine. Moscatel is a usually sweet dessert wine, although there are some dry varieties available. It’s produced locally in Alicante province and varies in price from around €3 a bottle in places like Lidl to whatever you want to pay. For our purposes, the cheap one is good enough. I also use moscatel in home made sangria. Maybe that’s one for another post!
If you’re thinking it doesn’t sound very healthy pairing wine with strawberries, don’t worry, because you only need about a dessert spoonful per kilo of fruit to do the job. It’s certainly healthier than sprinkling the fruit with sugar, and when you serve up you can leave the liquid behind if you want to. I don’t, and I also use a bit more than a dessert spoon per kilo! If you’re worried about serving moscatel strawberries to children or anyone who can’t drink alcohol, you can either rinse them off with water or maybe keep some back for the purpose. There are ways around everything.
It’s difficult to describe the flavour, so you need to try it for yourself, but I’ve never tasted strawberries quite like it. And they’ll keep in the fridge for up to a week. This information is second hand, because they never last that long in my house! I halve the larger strawberries, wash them off with water then put them in a large glass bowl and sprinkle over the moscatel. Here’s the clever bit: I then cover with cling film and shake the bowl so all the fruit is coated. Repeat this every now and again so you don’t have any of the fruit drying out. Serve with ice cream or yogurt, and if you’re feeling really decadent, drizzle a little local orange blossom honey over it. That can also help if you suffer from hay fever, apparently. Locally produced honey may be able to treat your symptoms without the need for antihistamines.
If you’ve ever had Spanish strawberries abroad, you might have found them a bit underwhelming. That’s because they’re picked way too soon then chilled for shipping so they don’t spoil before they reach their destination. When you buy your fruit from Spanish markets or supermarkets, it’s ready to eat and therefore at its best for flavour and vitamin content. It’s the same with all fruit and vegetables you buy here. Spanish growers pride themselves on harvesting their produce at the best possible moment for consumption and it shows.