Josine Atsma takes a look at seasonal July fruit and veg in Scotland, focusing on strawberries with a summery recipe for strawberry wine.
July in Scotland is all about soft fruit! All sorts are ripening fast in the warm summer days. There are strawberries, raspberries, red currants, black currants, gooseberries and the lesser known variety honeyberry, which is in fact the only edible honeysuckle berry.
I grow all these berries and currants and they are just so easy to grow! Because soft fruit is normally really expensive to buy, you might just as well find a corner in your garden and grow some of the berries or currants you like eating.
The good thing is that fruits like strawberries and raspberries are essentially native to Scotland, so you can just let them grow without your help. Raspberries and red, black or white currants all grow well even in partial shade and they don’t mind wet weather. They are also reasonably trouble free.
Strawberries are so easy they can take over your garden with the runners they produce at the end of the season. I now have a ground cover of wild strawberries which are small, but very sweet and because I also grow the ‘normal’ variety, there is always plenty of wild strawberries for the birds to eat.
Strawberries like full sun, to get the fruit to ripen, however, the wild strawberry also ripens in partial shade.
Honeyberry is a new addition to the British soft fruit market. It produces blueberry-like fruits late May/June, before the other soft fruits are ripe. They are native to Siberia and can withstand frosts of up to 40C! I’ve got two plants at home and they are thriving. Partial shade and no pests either.
If you want to grow this berry, make sure it says edible on the label, because all the other varieties of honeysuckle are poisonous.
Fresh July fruit and veg include:
Courgettes, all types of lettuce, early potatoes, onions, garlic, peas, beans, carrots, tomatoes, small white swedes (or turnips as they are known in England), rhubarb, gooseberries, strawberries, soft fruit like currants, raspberries, honeyberries.
July fruit and veg recipe
2 kg strawberries
1.5 kg sugar
1 tsp citric acid
½ tsp wine tannin (or 1tbsp cold strong tea)
4.5 ltr water
1 heaped tsp wine yeast
1 level tsp yeast nutrient
1 crushed campden tablet
1 tsp wine stabiliser
Top the strawberries and only wash the ones which are dirty. Mash the berries well and mix with the sugar and 2ltr of the water. Leave for 36 hours, then strain the liquid into a demijohn. Add one litre of water to the strawberry pulp and strain again into the demijohn. Add the citric acid, tannin (or tea), yeast and yeast nutrient and top up to around 5cm under the rim. Insert a bored bung and stir thoroughly by holding your thumb on the hole. Fill an airlock with water and insert into the hole of the bung. Leave to ferment in a warm place (but no warmer than 28C) for a few weeks. You should be hearing the gentle bubbling of the fermentation. When the bubbling stops, fermentation is complete and you can now finish the wine. Syphon off the wine into a clean container (this can be another demijohn or just something to hold the liquid). But make sure you have the wine in a demijohn again when stopping the fermentation. To stop the fermentation add 1 crushed campden tablet and 1 tsp wine stabilizer (dissolved in a little bit of water). Shake well, like you did before and leave to clear in a dark place. You can use wine finings to speed up the clearing, but these are often not vegetarian, I just leave the demijohn for a couple of months. However, you can bottle the wine after a month or so.
Strawberry wine is drinkable after just one or two months. It is great on warm summer days or with a barbecue. Strawberry wine is one of my favourite homemade wines, I drink this one for summer and the elderberry wine in winter time. You can buy equipment from any homebrew store (including ourselves), but we also sell the chemicals via our online shop.
By the way…
I have lots more tasty, seasonal, plant-based recipes available on my website. Please follow this link to take a look. I hope you like them!