UP TO TWO-FIFTHS OF A CROP of fruit or vegetables can be wasted because it’s ugly or underripe. This is then churned back into the soil, composted or, at worst, poured into landfill. Of course, there’s nothing actually wrong with such produce: ugly fruit still tastes the same, while underripe fruit is perfect for making interesting preserves and bringing acidity to cooking. It’s worth bearing in mind that excessive pesticides tend to be used on this perennial British summer crop, so buy unsprayed fruit, if possible.
Nothing tastes of summer quite like a zingy, sweet, juicy strawberry, but have you ever thought about eating the nutritious green tops, leaves or even the underripe, tart green fruit, which is lovely in salads or pickled and eaten with cheese. I’ll happily gobble strawberries whole, tops and all, but if I have to hull them, I use the green stems first, taking as little flesh as possible, because they make a delicious tea when infused with hot water.
At the other end of the spectrum to green strawberries, ripe, red fruit bruises easily, and goes mushy and less appetising, but it’s still OK to eat. Macerate in gin or vodka and serve with cream, or bake in a crumble.
Green strawberry ceviche
Fill a clean 750ml jar with 275ml water, 100ml white-wine vinegar, a teaspoon of sugar and four teaspoons of salt. Shake to dissolve. Fill the jar with about 300g green strawberries and green tomatoes (optional). Screw on the lid and put in the fridge overnight. Serve as they are, or make a “ceviche”: cut the fruit into thin wedges and lay on a plate. Dress with a little olive oil, finely sliced coriander stalks and leaves, and diced green chilli.