Where to find the best British strawberries

Updated on 13 March 2012 | 0 Comments

Daniel Culpan picks the cream of the strawberry crop.

There’s something quintessentially British about strawberries.  As British summertime has officially begun, prime strawberry-picking season is upon us, providing an excuse – if ever one was needed – to enjoy one of our greatest home-grown fruits.

Whether it’s their luscious, livid red colour, their delicious sweetness or versatility in everything from fruit salads and smoothies to straight-from-the punnet snacking, strawberries are a firm favourite.

Despite the very word summoning English summer picnics and the thwack of Wimbledon tennis rackets, strawberries come in an eclectic range of types and flavours – from sharp and tangy to impossibly sweet.  It’s not just their taste that appeals: the fruit is widely acclaimed for its antioxidant-packed health benefits and has been referred to as an ‘edible Valentine’ for its aphrodisiac properties.

And, of course, it’s impossible to mention strawberries without their mouth-wateringly perfect complement: cream.  An English summer without this dessert is about as dreary as, well, a typical English summer, but remains for me a comforting taste of childhood memories and nostalgia.  As the dictum goes: ‘Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless God never did’.  And I couldn’t agree more.

Too often, supermarkets offer deceptively bright, juicy-looking strawberries that, on tasting them, are soft and bland-tasting, with none of the sweet punch you should get from a great specimen.  So here’s my pick of the best British strawberry suppliers.

Runnington Fruit Farm, Somerset

Website: www.runningtonfruit.com

A hidden gem, Runnington offers a juicy selection of delicious strawberries, offering the choice of pick-your-own (at £1.35/lb) or ready picked punnets (£1.10).  The farm also offers a whole host of other seasonal berries and local produce, making Runnington a one-stop-shop for homegrown, best-of-British berries. 

Turnips, London

Website: www.turnipsboroughmarket.co.uk

With outlets in both world-famous Borough Market and Selfridges, this high quality fruit and vegetable brand have earned an impressive reputation in their 15-year run.  Plump, juicy and luscious in both taste and texture, their strawberries are sourced from independent farmers in both Kent and Perthshire.  And Turnips’ knowledgeable in-store foodies are on hand to supply cookery tips and suggestions. 

Riverford Home Farm, North Yorkshire

Website: www.riverford.co.uk/homefarm

This organic supplier originally began as a small business delivering vegetables locally in Devon – they now deliver 47,000 a week around the UK.  With sister farms spanning the country from Devon to Cheshire, the company’s commitment to fair trade and animal welfare means you can enjoy their fragrant, sweet strawberries without a guilty conscience.  The website also provides tantalising tips on how to serve your strawberries. 

Boddingtons Berries, Cornwall

Website: www.boddingtonsberries.co.uk

This Corwall-based company prides itself on an extensive and season-round range of varieties.  From the popular, early flowering Elsanta, with its full flavour and perfect shape, to the bright glossy berries of the Symphony, this is definitely one for the strawberry connoisseur.  They no longer offer a ‘pick your own’ service, but orders can be collected from the farm, and the website features a tasty range of conserves. 

Waitrose, nationwide

Website: www.waitrose.com

Ok, so it might seem like the easy option, but you needn’t just rely on my humble opinion to inform you that Waitrose’s strawberries are some of the best.  Surveys have shown that the supermarket sources some of the plumpest, juiciest berries from English producers, ahead of high street rivals.  Furthermore, Waitrose are also pushing the boundaries of form.  Just this month they began stocking the pineberry – a white strawberry that tastes like a pineapple – and a few years back trialled the strasberry, a strawberry-raspberry hybrid. 

Any places we’ve missed?

If strawberry fields are indeed forever, it’s quite possible I’ve overlooked a must-eat must-add to the list. If you know of any great British strawberries I’ve missed, please share it with other lovefood.com readers using the Comments box below! 

Also worth your attention:

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Raymond Blanc's strawberry crumble recipe

Henry Dimbleby's strawberry power smoothie

Forget your 5-a-day – you now need 8-a-day!

The tastiest regional foods in the UK

Top 10 favourite British foods


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