PICK OF THE BUNCH
One of my favourite things to do in early summer is to go fruit picking. I often “just happen to be passing” fruit farms, and feel it would be such a shame to drive past without collecting a punnet or two of fruit, especially when I “just happen to have a spare half hour”. Very convenient.
The first dilemma is always which fruit to pick: Strawberries every time, but not so many that we won’t eat them. Raspberries by the bucket load, they freeze so well. Gooseberries and currants if I’ve got time, and it’s always a joy to find a few bags of these in the freezer to make a crumble in the depths of winter.
Some of the people you meet at fruit farms are semi-professional pickers of the older generation who fill boxes systematically before returning home to make vats of jam. I, on the other hand, choose an aisle at random and haphazardly work my way along the rows. I enjoy the warmth of the sun on my face in a field protected by the wind, listening to the bird song and day-dreaming as I carefully select my berries.
In a particularly heavily cropping patch of strawberries I’ll kneel and take my time to pick the bright red (not too light, not too dark) fruit. I find that children are particularly adept at picking raspberries, and if they eat some along the way, I’ll pop a few coins in the charity box. When it comes to the dreaded weigh-in it’s always a treat to find some little tubs of clotted cream on the counter.
Strawberries can be grown under glass (or plastic) most of the year round in Cornwall, and some polytunnels are already open for picking (as at Trevaskis Farm, see above picture). Fruit farms will typically have their open air pick your own fruit ready around the time of the Royal Cornwall Show. I for one, will be counting down the days.
Here are our pick of the bunch: Four fabulous fruit farms. I urge you to get out there, pick some fruit, and gorge on it.
1 TREVASKIS FARM, NR HAYLE
2 CHYREEN FRUIT FARM, CARNON DOWNS
4 TREVATHAN FARM, ST ENDELLION
EASY PEASY PAVLOVA
There’s nothing simpler than a meringue and they make a show-stopping finale to any meal. Here’s my fail safe recipe.
3 large egg whites*
175g caster sugar
275ml, double cream
350g your favourite fruit
Preheat the oven to 150°C (130°C fan).
Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks are formed and then add the sugar, one spoonful at a time, until the mixture is stiff and glossy.
Spread the mixture onto baking parchment, using a fork to shape the meringue so that the edges are raised and the centre is hollowed out to contain the fruit and cream.
Place in the oven and immediately turn the oven down to 140°C (120°C fan). Cook for one hour, then turn off the oven and leave the meringue in there overnight until it is completely dried out.
Top with whipped cream and fruit.
*Handy hint: Fresh eggs produce the best meringue. Make sure the bowl is squeaky clean and there aren’t any tiny bits of eggshell in with the whites. If a piece of shell does fall in, then use a larger piece of eggshell to scoop it out.