Strawberry Fields Forever – The Creation of Sweet Eve

I come from a family with generations of berry-growing experience, but contrary to my growing heritage, my passion is strawberry breeding.  My family has been growing strawberries in Kent for more than 150 years, and I took over the farm from my father Edward, when I was initially involved in growing rather than breeding. However, as I got more involved in the business, I identified that I had a real desire to extend the traditional British strawberry season and so I set up a bespoke breeding programme at the family farm.

I’ve since relinquished the day to day running of the farm to my nephew who continues to grow high quality strawberry and blueberry crops at our farm in Kent.  We’re are able to grow significant areas of the latest varieties to gain knowledge and continue to work creatively to develop new British strawberries. Fortunately, I have a unique perspective – my experience as both a grower and breeder means I understand what is required both from consumers and those who grow the fruit for them.

We’ve developed a new variety called Sweet Eve through our breeding program, on which I’ve worked continuously for over 25 years.  Our program seeks to deliver the best taste, eating quality and shelf life, as well as providing growers with a high yield, all of which have equal importance.

Good flavour, as far as the consumer is concerned, is largely to do with high sugar, low acid and a good aroma.  As we become more health aware, people are eating strawberries on their own without sugar, cream or ice cream and therefore the berries need to have fabulous flavour in their own right.  The eating experience is increasingly important and this is what drove me forward when developing the Sweet Eve variety. Eating strawberries is highly beneficial for promoting good health, and there are five things you may not know about their medicinal properties:

1. Strawberries contain more vitamin C than the equivalent weight of fresh oranges, and like most fruit and veg, they are low in calories, high in fibre and can help to boost our intake of antioxidants

2. Just 7 strawberries (80g) provides your recommended daily amount of vitamin C

3. Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin K and manganese, as well as folic acid, potassium, riboflavin, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, copper, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids

4. Strawberries contain significant levels of phytonutrients and antioxidants which help to fight free radicals (which can damage cells and are thought to contribute to the formation of many kinds of cancer). These antioxidant properties are believed to be linked to what makes the strawberry bright red

5. Strawberries were historically used medicinally to help with digestive ailments, discoloured teeth and skin irritations

UK grown strawberries like ours are produced closer to home and have less distance to travel than imported strawberries. They are also picked when fully ripe so it stands to reason they will taste better.  But we’ve developed Sweet Eve to also provide a ‘wow’ experience not consistently found in commercially available strawberries. They really do taste like strawberries used to.

Our Sweet Eve strawberries are orange-red in colour, and have the aroma and intense flavour of wild strawberries. One of their other great characteristics is that they also keep for around three days in the fridge, an important factor for modern consumers, who don’t shop daily.

We called the variety Sweet Eve, as it takes its name from the EV in the Edward Vinson business, my father’s name.  It’s a tradition – all new varieties bred by us have been named with EV since the 1990s and include Everest and Everglade. Sweet Eve was chosen as the variety name because the berries are naturally sweet and full of flavour, and are a source of temptation!

I predict the popularity of berries will continue to improve – greater availability and better flavour will give consumers confidence that the strawberries they buy will be of a consistently high quality. The flavour of our strawberries really epitomises the English summer – and surely that’s what people are looking for when they buy them. Fifteen million punnets of strawberries are eaten in Britain between June and October, making it one of the nation’s most loved fruit.

I enjoy eating strawberries on their own, but also love bringing out the taste with other ingredients. So we have compiled a series of recipes, which we hope you will enjoy. They can also be found on our website at:

Sweet Eve Strawberries macerated with Apple Juice, Honey and Mint

Macerating just means leaving the fruit to marinate, and the flavours used here, apple, mint and honey, complement the sweet and tangy flavours of Sweet Eve strawberries perfectly. If you leave the strawberries marinating for a good hour, the tanginess of the apple, the sweetness of the honey and the minty fragrance will infuse to create a mouth-watering combination.

Serves 4

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Macerating time: 1 hour

You’ll need:

500g of ripe Sweet Eve strawberries

250ml of cloudy apple juice

75ml of runny honey

A handful of fresh mint leaves, from the garden

What to do:

Hull the strawberries, then slice them in half lengthways and place them in a roomy bowl.

In a small jug, pour the apple juice and the runny honey and mix well. Tear the mint leaves into small pieces, and mix them into the liquid.

Pour the marinade over the strawberries and mix well but gently, making sure that you do not damage them. Clingfilm the bowl and set aside, covered with cling film, somewhere cool, but not the fridge, for one hour.

After an hour, remove the cling film, and give the strawberries another mix, to ensure they are all covered with the marinade. Serve into individual bowls.

Sweet Eve Strawberry Tapas

This is such a simple and easy way of serving fresh, ripe seasonal strawberries at the end of a relaxed supper party. Everyone can get stuck into their preferred flavour combinations, and can taste each accompaniment. Ricotta is an Italian whey cheese and can be found in most supermarkets.

Let the sweet and fragrant taste of Sweet Eve strawberries speak for itself, or enhance it by dipping in this wonderful array of spices and flavours.

Serves 4

Preparation time: 15 minutes

You’ll need:

500g fresh Sweet Eve strawberries

100g black pepper corns

100. red pepper corns

250g Ricotta cheese

½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon

100ml of aged traditional, balsamic vinegar from Modena

Zest of 1 unwaxed lemon

100g unrefined soft brown cane sugar

What to do:

Hull and clean the strawberries, removing the green stem with a teaspoon. Now slice the strawberries in half, and place them in a serving bowl on a tray. Prepare 5 more small bowls, all to be served on the same tray.

Using a pestle and mortar, lightly crush the black pepper corns, and then place them in a small bowl, on the same tray as the strawberries.

Lightly crush the red pepper corns, as above, and place them in a separate bowl, again on the tray. Mix the ricotta in another bowl with the ground cinnamon

Pour the balsamic vinegar in a small bowl. Place the lemon zest in another bowl, and mix in the sugar.

Serve the prepared tray to your guests, and they can dip each strawberry into the flavours


Sweet Eve Strawberry Ripple Mascarpone Cheese Parfait           

A parfait or semifreddo is just a frozen pudding. It is a very simple way of making a very delicious type of ice-cream but without too much stirring, leaving the cook ample time to focus on other preparations. Mascarpone cream cheese, from the north of Italy, is a very good ingredient to accompany strawberries. The crunchy Amaretti biscuits and Amaretto liqueur in the recipe add a delicious bitter almond flavour to cut through the creaminess of the pudding. All ingredients can be found in a good supermarket or delicatessen.

Serves 6

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Freezing time: 12 hours (or overnight)

You’ll need:

100g soft Amaretti biscuits

Splash of Amaretto liqueur

400. Sweet Eve strawberries

4 fresh free range eggs, separated

100g caster sugar

250g Mascarpone cream cheese

What to do:

Carefully line the base and the sides of a 1 litre plastic lunch box, or plastic Tupperware container with cling film that overlaps down the side.

Crush the soft Amaretti biscuits all over the base of the lunch box, and drizzle some Amaretto liqueur over them.

Hull the strawberries and crush them in a bowl, using a fork. Spoon half of the crushed strawberries all over the Amaretti covered base of the lunch box.

Using an electric whisk, beat the egg yolks with the sugar, till light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites till they form soft peaks. Fold the egg whites into the egg yolk and sugar mix, carefully retaining the air inside the mix.

In a roomy bowl, whip the Mascarpone cream cheese until it is softened, then fold the egg mix into the Mascarpone cheese, a little at a time, until it is fully blended.

Spoon half the Mascarpone mix over the crushed strawberries in the lunch box, and level the top with a spatula. Spoon the remaining half of the crushed strawberries on top of the Mascarpone cream, and then spoon the remaining half of the Mascarpone cream on top, as the final layer. Take a metal skewer, and very gently insert it into the mix, turning it around to create a “ripple” effect of red and white.

Bang the Tupperware box gently on the work surface, to evenly distribute the mix, and top with a few halved strawberries to decorate. Then cover the parfait mix with the overlapping cling film.

Freeze the parfait overnight. Just before serving place the open Tupperware box on the table, and place an upturned serving plate on top of it. Now turn the Tupperware box upside down, gently, so that the frozen parfait and the cling film slide down on the serving plate. Remove the cling film, turn the parfait over onto another plate to right it, and slice the parfait into individual portions. Serve.

Sweet Eve Strawberry Oven Baked Risotto with Buttermilk         

Risotto doesn’t have to be laborious, you can make it in the oven. In this recipe, rich buttermilk is used as a more acidic foil to cut through the sweetness of the strawberries. If you can’t find buttermilk, just add a generous squeeze of lemon juice to the same quantity of fresh milk.

Serves 4

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes

You’ll need:

250g of Sweet Eve strawberries

1 litre of buttermilk (or plain milk with the juice of 1 lemon mixed in)

100g soft brown unrefined cane sugar

Zest of 1 unwaxed lemon

200g of Riso Gallo Arborio or Carnaroli risotto rice

1 cinnamon stick

250ml fresh cream, for serving

Unsalted butter for the roasting tin

What to do:

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Butter a small roasting tin, or small apple crumble pyrex dish.

Hull the strawberries and cut them into small pieces. Place them in a small bowl and set aside.

Combine the buttermilk, the sugar and the lemon zest in a bowl and mix well.

Scatter the risotto rice and strawberry pieces evenly across the buttered roasting tray. Break the cinnamon stick in two pieces and place them, set apart, in the tin. Pour the milky liquid evenly throughout the roasting tin.

Bake the risotto in the pre-heated oven for around 30 minutes, or until the rice grains are very soft, and the top of the risotto is crisp and browned. You may need to cover the top of the rice pudding with aluminum foil to stop it from darkening too much.

When ready, remove the roasting tin from the oven and set the rice pudding aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly, before serving with double cream.

Sweet Eve Strawberry and Vanilla Brown Sugar Toasted Brioche Sandwich

If you are after a really sumptuous breakfast or brunch treat, then look no further. The rich buttery flavour of brioche is used to sandwich ripe strawberries and vanilla infused sugar. The perfect summer morning sandwich and so much prettier than bacon and eggs!

Serves 4

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Toasting time: 6 minutes

You’ll need:

8 slices of brioche bread

400g ripe Sweet Eve strawberries

Unsalted butter for spreading

100g soft brown cane sugar

1 heaped tsp of vanilla bean paste

What to do:

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Cover a roasting tray with aluminium foil, and place the eight slices of toast on the tray. Toast till golden brown, roughly 3 minutes each side.

The brioche bread will go quite crispy. Set aside for a few minutes to cool down slightly.

Hull the strawberries and then slice them in quarters. Place in a bowl, add the vanilla bean paste and the sugar, and then mix well.

Take four slices of toasted brioche, spread each thinly with butter, then spoon some of the strawberry mixture on top of each. Top each with another slice of toasted brioche, to form a sandwich.

Serve each toasted brioche sandwich on individual serving plates, with a spoonful or two of extra strawberries on the side.

Sweet Eve Strawberries with Pink Lady Apple Sorbet       

On a hot summer’s day, this is the perfect dessert recipe. The sweet tanginess of Pink Lady apples makes a wonderful sorbet flavour, and the strawberries bring fragrance and softness to the icy texture. If you want to add a splash of pinkness to the sorbet grenadine is the perfect cordial and can be found in any good supermarket or delicatessen.

Serves 4

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Freezing time: 1 hour

You’ll need:

500g Sweet Eve strawberries

6 Pink Lady® apples

Zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lemon

4 tbsp of grenadine cordial

50ml elderflower cordial

100g caster sugar

4 sprigs of mint for decoration

What to do:

Hull the Sweet Eve strawberries and slice them into small pieces. Set half aside in a cling filmed bowl for decoration.

Peel, core and thinly slice the Pink Lady® apples, and place them in a blender with the rest of the strawberries lemon zest and juice, Grenadine cordial, Elderflower cordial and sugar. Puree till the mixture is completely smooth.

Place the strawberry and apple puree in a clean Tupperware container, smooth it with a fork till it is completely level and then close with a plastic lid.

Freeze the puree for half an hour. Then whisk it through with a fork, and re-level it. Freeze again till quite solid, but of spooning consistency.

Place a generous spoonful of strawberry and apple sorbet in a serving dish, and top it with the chopped strawberries.

Sweet Eve Strawberries Dipped in Melted Chocolate and Toasted Pistachio Nuts   

Strawberries, melted chocolate and toasted pistachio nuts form a flavour combination made in heaven. The most important tip is to buy really good quality dark chocolate with at least 70% cacao bean solids, in order to get the full rich flavour and aroma of the cacao bean.

Serves 4

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

You’ll need:

500g ripe Sweet Eve strawberries

100g icing sugar for sifting

250g dark 70% cacao solid chocolate

100g raw shelled pistachio nuts

200ml whipping cream

50g caster sugar

What to do:

Hull the strawberries. Place them in a bowl and sift the icing sugar over them. Mix well, and set the bowl aside, cling filmed.

Break the chocolate into small squares in a heatproof bowl, and place the bowl over simmering, hot water that is in a saucepan over a low heat. The steam from the hot water will rise, and gently melt the chocolate. The water must not boil so hard so that it directly bubbles up to touch the bottom of the bowl containing the chocolate. When the chocolate is all melted, take the saucepan and bowl off the heat, and set aside to cool gently.

Using a dry, non-stick frying pan, toast the pistachio nuts very carefully. Keep turning them, so that they do not catch and burn. When they are golden brown, and their aroma is filling the air, remove from the heat. When the nuts have cooled, chop them into small pieces. Set aside.

Whip the cream till it forms soft peaks with caster sugar. Spoon the cream into a serving bowl. Prick the bottom end of a strawberry with a cocktail stick, dip the strawberry into the melted chocolate, and then roll it into the chopped, toasted pistacchio nuts. Lay each finished strawberry on a serving platter, with the cocktail stick, so that the chocolate can reset.

Serve the strawberries with the whipped cream, for dipping into.

Roasted Sweet Eve Strawberry Vanilla Jam with Yoghurt

This is a very simple, but delicious way of making quick jam, without all the stirring and waiting that traditional jam making involves. The roasting brings out the natural flavours of the strawberries, and also gives the jam a wonderful caramel flavour. One of the best ways of sterilising the jam jars is to wash them in the hottest setting in the dishwasher, then place them in a hot oven for about half an hour. Served with lashings of greek Yoghurt, this recipe is the ultimate sweet treat.

Makes approximately 5 kg of jam (ten 500g jam jars)

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

You’ll need:

3 kg ripe Sweet Eve strawberries

2 vanilla seed pods

2.5 kg caster sugar

400g of plain Greek yoghurt

3 tbsp granola

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Hull the strawberries and place them in a large pyrex heatproof dish or a non-stick roasting tin.

Slice through the vanilla pods lengthways, and open the pods. With the back of a knife, remove the vanilla seeds, and mix the seeds into the caster sugar. Place the empty vanilla pods into a jar of sugar, and the aroma will scent the sugar, for cake baking.

Place the vanilla sugar in a separate pyrex dish or non-stick roasting tin. Place both the sugar and the strawberries, which are on separate dishes or tins, in the oven, and roast for 30 minutes. The strawberries will start to go soft, and the sugar will be hot. Remove from the oven.

Combine the hot sugar and the soft strawberries. The heat of the sugar will make the strawberries melt into a gooey, sweet jam. Cool the strawberry jam.

Fill the sterilised jam jars with the strawberry jam, and cover the jam with a small disc of greaseproof or wax paper. Then close the jars tightly, and label with the name of the jam and the date. You can store the jam in a cool, dark place, and it should keep for a good 6 months.

Serve the jam spooned over Greek yoghurt in small serving bowls with a sprinkling of granola and chopped strawberries.

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