This is a basic recipe idea I had in the car yesterday on returning from a shoot with 'Veggie Desserts ' queen Kate Hackworthy. She had a massive bunch of the freshest vegetables for a photo shoot we were doing and I felt inspired on the way home. Thankyou Kate!
I had the idea because I was kindly sent a bottle of Domaine Drouin ‘Blanche de Normandie’, a Norman Eau De Vie, as a gift from Guillaume Drouin and wanted to put it to good use. Eau-de-vie is the pure fresh spirit that runs from the stills when fractionating cider before its aged in oak barrels before becoming cider brandy. I’ve been aware that ‘eau-de-vie’ doesn’t sell in large numbers and is largely the preserve of cocktail bar keeps and chefs. For the rest of us, I believe its a simple case of us not appreciating what we have and remembering to explore it a bit more. Its important not to remember to enjoy life by exploring whats around us, which is easily forgotten in modern living. The French certainly respect simple recipes like this but I get the feeling more of us have lost this kind of connection in UK.
This is a simple method of preserving wild strawberries and setting myself up for a treat later on in the year. If you do this midsummer, you should have some treats for all sorts of things by Christmas time, if you can resist opening it for that long. Once matured, they can be used as a garnish for ice cream, an addition to sparkling ciders of the higher calibre, in sauces or simply on their own.
In that vein I want to try and encourage you more people to try this at home. Its the right time of year to find all sorts of soft fruit and autumn will only bring more ripe fruit. I plan to do a similar thing with dried baby figs too. Find a fruit that you want to try and enjoy later in the year and give it a go. This is an easy win for your kitchen.
They’re really easy plants to keep and propagate and mature by suckering without even trying, in fact, they often take over, so keep an eye on them. Because of the way wild strawberries flower, in a constant succession, pick the fruit as they mature to a dark red in colour. For eating, they should be firm but soft and a few non-red colour patches are fine. This a recipe you will need to add to every few days as the next batch of strawberries matures.
- Eau de vie
- wild strawberries
- icing sugar - 2 teaspoons
- fresh black pepper - 2-3 peppercorns
- small picking jar
Rinse them gently and allow to dry for 5 mins.
In the base of a prepared (clean and sterilised) jar, gently place the strawberries, sprinkle with the sugar and grind over some crushed peppercorns, to add a gentle background spice to the mix. Carefully close the lid and gently turn upside down and back upright again only once in one even motion. Ripe strawberries are delicate you need to keep agitation to a minimum or they will eventually start to fall apart (which may be no bad thing as you can cook with intense mashy, fruity liquor.)
Add the mix as the new fruit matures
In response to a question from a friend, about other spirits you can use instead of eau de vie, I believe you can use just about any spirit you like. Well made EDV is particularly good because, as an unadulterated 'white' spirit, it has superb aromatics whereas sometihng like vodka has much less. Its not uncommon to see fruit pickled in brandy such as Cognac from France or a schnapps from Germany or Austria. Cider Eau De Vie is produced in UK by the Somerset Cider Brandy company and widely available.