Photo of a strawberry plant
Strawberries are the ultimate summer fruit [Image: Jonathan Billinger - Wikimedia Commons]

Two great ways to enjoy summer strawberries

18 June, 2012

Strawberry and lemon balm salad with rose syrup

Strawberries are the ultimate summer fruit. This is an unusual, healing take on how to get the best out of them.


  • 450g (15 oz) strawberries
  • 6 generous sprigs of fresh lemon balm

For the rose petal syrup

  • 50-100g (2-3 oz) of rose petals
  • 300ml (10 oz) of water
  • 700g (1 ½ lb) sugar


Rose petals should belong to dark magenta coloured  R. damascena or R. galica species (the perfume is more important than the colour, but a dark rose makes a beautifully coloured syrup).

1 Cover the petals with 200ml of boiling water and cover to infuse off the heat.

2 Put the sugar into the pan and cover with the rest of the water and bring slowly the heat up, to dissolve the sugar.

3 Once the sugar is liquid, strain the rose water and add it to the sugar, Take the pan of the heat mixing well.

4 Pour into sterilised glass bottle and close. Keep in a fridge.

Wash strawberries, remove green parts; slice, or use whole according to how you like them. Arrange them in a serving dish or individual desert dishes adding fresh leaves of lemon balm leaves to each layer. Serves 4.

Drizzle over with rose syrup and serve.


Strawberry tart

This special treat is always a crowd-pleaser and worth the little bit of preparation that goes into it. This recipe serves 4.

For the pastry:

  • 175g (6oz) plain flour
  • 90g (3oz) chilled butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • dash of salt
  • 2 tbl cold water

For the filling:

  • Large punnet (450g; 15 oz) of strawberries, sliced
  • 430ml (14 oz) milk
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 110g (3 ½ oz) castor sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 2 level tbl plain flour
  • 1 level tbl corn-flour
  • 15g (½ oz) butter

To make the pastry:

1 Place the flour, salt and butter in a bowl. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients using 2 knifes, until the mixture resembles crumbs.

2 Add the egg yolk and mix with wooden spoon until the pastry draws together, adding the water few drops at the time.

3 Turn the pastry onto the lightly floured surface, kneed briefly and make smooth round dough.

4 Roll out the pastry to 3mm thickness.

5 Roll the pastry loosely around the rolling pin and lift onto the baking tin. Press gently over the base and up the side of the fluted tin. Let the pastry come up just above the rim of the tin and trim off the rest.

6 Chill for at least 30 minutes, to allow pastry to relax in order to minimize shrinking.

7 Preheat the oven to 200° degrees C.

8 Line the one large or 4 individual tart shells with baking parchment and fill with baking beans. Bake until crisp and golden, approximately 10 minutes Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Now prepare the filling:

1 Bring milk to boil in a pan, add vanilla pod and take off the heat. Let vanilla infuse in milk.

2 Whisk the egg yolks with sugar, until pale, than gradually add flour and corn-flour.

3 Remove vanilla and pour the milk over the egg yolk mixture – stirring vigorously as you pour.

4 Return the whole lot into the cooking pan (previously rinsed out) and cook over the medium heat until it thickens, beating briskly.

5 Take the pan off heat, and beat in butter.

Poor it into the pastry cases and add the strawberries on top. You can eat this immediately, so place on plate and drizzle over with the Rose petal syrup (see recipe above).


  • The late Dragana Vilinac was chief herbalist at Neal’s Yard Remedies.
  • For more strawberry recipes see our feature FARM TO FORK: June