Nothing spells winter in our part of the world than gorging on red, farm fresh strawberries from the hills of Mahabaleshwar. In fact, our favourite childhood memory is made of big bowls of strawberry and cream, licking them clean.
Tucked away in the lush green Sahyadri mountain ranges of Maharashtra, is a picturesque region known for its rolling hills, gushing waterfalls, and of course, strawberries. The cool climes of Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar are conducive to strawberry cultivation, a tradition believed to have been introduced by the British in the late 19th century. Panchgani being the summer capital of the Bombay Presidency, it was an excuse to escape the sultry seaside weather.
Here’s how you can make the most of this gorgeous seasonal berry.
Make cakes, smoothies and more
If you are a fan of the fruit, you will enjoy them as is. Apart from devouring bowls of strawberry and cream, make shortcakes, cheesecakes and tarts. You can also add them to your morning smoothie bowl or a quick lunch salad. With the party season upon us, you can even whip up some delicious cocktails with the juiciest of strawberries.
Go strawberry picking
The lush strawberry farms of Panchgani-Mahabaleshwar are a great option for those looking for a weekend getaway. Spend your day picking fresh strawberries at one of the many local farms here, and take home your hand-picked bounty of farm fresh berries.
Preserve your strawberries to enjoy them when they are not in season. Freezing is one of the best ways to prolong their flavour and freshness apart from using them to make jams. Lay them on a sheet pan and freeze, uncovered. Once frozen, store your strawberries in freezer bags or containers.
Your gourmet superstore may boast of the season’s best strawberries. But, the best of the lot is available at local farmers’ markets, who procure the fruit directly from growers. Scout your neighbourhood during weekends or look up online to locate one. And if you happen to get friendly with a vendor, you may be able to strike a deal.
Make the most of the strawberry season by ordering Native Tongue’s Strawberry Preserve spiked with locally-grown Kerala vanilla. Prepared with the juiciest Mahabaleshwar strawberries, it can be spread over toasts or pancakes, mixed with yoghurt for a breakfast smoothie bowl or used as a glaze on cakes.