Thursday, 25 July 2013

Down on the Strawberry Farm Searching for Perfection

Have you ever been on a quest to find the perfect strawberry? Well look no further because I think I have found them for you!

I was recently invited to visit a strawberry farm near Canterbury in Kent and the weather could have been made just for our visit.

We visited the Kelsey Farm about 6 miles from Canterbury in Kent, whose main strawberry variety is the Jubilee strawberry.  The farm employs about 250 workers during the height of the picking season and they live on site and get paid by the weight of their picking not per hour so some of the fast pickers can make a good wage.

The Jubilee strawberry is really naturally sweet and grows to a large size and an almost perfect heart shape.  These fruit are grown in long tables above the ground both to make it easier to pick and to keep them off the ground and away from the slugs etc.


After a short introduction to the farm, currently being worked by fourth generation fruit farmer Paul Kelsey, we walked over to the polytunnels, handed some punnets and told to pick some to take home.  I didn't need to be told a second time and got stuck in one for the punnet, one for me, one for the punnet etc.


They are grown in large polytunnels and picked by workers who clearly enjoy their job. 

Most of the workers come from Bulgaria, Poland and Slovakia.  They were all smiling and very happy to talk to us.  I spoke to Svetan from Bulgaria who understood quite a bit of English.

There were just beautiful strawberries everywhere you looked!

And if there are any not quite perfect berries they are put in a large container and sold to make jam for spong cake fillings.

A quick visit to the raspberry polytunnels, a few picked just to check the taste and

a quick look around the storage facilities where the berries are graded, packed and labelled and ready for delivery to supermarkets all over the country.

After our informative and tasty introduction to Jubilee strawberries we were taken to the local village for a strawberry lunch.  The pub, The Duke William was a beautiful pub with chalkboards everywhere telling the tale of their specials and food of special interest.

Due to the intensely beautiful weather we needed to re-hydrate and what better way than with copious amounts of Pimms and lemonade!

We sat outside and enjoyed a sumptious lunch with each course featuring the Jubilee strawberry!

Melon, kiwi, Jubilee strawberry and parma ham salad

Pan fried scallops with black pudding, Jubilee strawberries and balsamic glaze

Jubilee strawberry and lemon sorbet

Confit of goose with a Jubilee strawberry jus served with Boulanger potatoes and chantenay carrots

Cracked black peppercorn with a Jubilee strawberry port and sabayon glaze

Camembert with French baguettes, jubilee strawberries and celery

Thanks so much to Kelsey Farm and Jubilee Strawberries for such a lovely day and a big box full of strawberries to take home.  Look out for my post on what I did with them. Thanks too to The Duke William pub for a sumptious and delicious lunch.
What's your favourite strawberry dish? Leave a comment below.

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