It’s become a bit of a tradition at Wychbold Fudge that when Wimbledon starts, we make our Strawberries & Cream summer special. So in this blog, I thought I’d tell you how this lovely seasonal flavour started in the fields of a local farm and made its way to market.
The story begins at Bell’s Farm, Stourport – located about 10 minutes drive from Wychbold. It has a delightful farm shop and, more importantly for our purposes, you can Pick Your Own fruit there too.
So one bright, Tuesday morning in the middle of June, following a few days of nice sunny weather (perfect for ripening strawberries!), we made the short drive out to Bell’s Farm Shop, Stourport, to look for our favourite summer ingredient.
The strawberry fields are located right next to the shop, so armed with a large cardboard box we set out to select just the right strawberries to make into fudge.
The important thing was to find strawberries that were nice and ripe as they break down more easily in the cooking.
Equally, we didn’t want them over ripe as the flavour wouldn’t be as strong and would be lost when the fudge was cooked.
So ripe, succulent strawberries – that’s what we were after and there were certainly plenty to be found!
We needed about 2kg of strawberries to make 6 trays of strawberries & cream fudge (or about 150 bars) – just about enough to last for Wimbledon fortnight.
After a couple of hours of selecting and picking (and of course tasting!) the perfect fruit, it was time to head into the shop to pay for our harvest, before heading home to prepare the strawberries for cooking.
Once home, we washed the fruit and removed the stalks, before slicing them in half. They were then popped in the fridge overnight, all ready to be cooked the next day – Wednesday is cooking day at Wychbold Fudge!
The next morning, the first job was to soften the strawberries ready to be made into fudge. We did this using our fudge kettle, partially cooking the strawberries in there first so that we didn’t lose any of the flavour. The kettle heats to over 75 degrees C, so the strawberries soon broke down ready for the next stage.
Once the strawberries were soft, we then added our basic fudge ingredients of butter, sugar, milk and of course cream. The strawberries continued to cook in the fudge so that all of the delicious fruit was fully absorbed – including every drop of the fruit’s juices.
It took about 2 hours for the fudge to cook. Then, once it was ready, we poured the fudge into trays. The smell in our family kitchen by this stage was really something to savour – freshly cooked fudge, bursting with strawberries, adorning our kitchen table. It’s at times like that that we really appreciate being able to make our fudge at home!
The fudge then had to be left overnight to set. If we tried to cut the fudge before it was ready it would crack the surface of the fudge, and although the flavour wouldn’t have been affected, we like to make sure our fudge looks as good as it tastes! So we had to be patient…
Finally, the next day, just 48 hours after we were in the fields at Bell’s farm picking the strawberries, it was the moment of truth – the moment when we finally got to cut, and sample our wonderful summer special. Strawberries & Cream is that most English of summer flavours, and we weren’t disappointed with the result. It tasted every bit as good as we had hoped for!
There is something really lovely about picking a fruit, taking it home, preparing it, cooking it and then cutting it ready to taste yourself and then ultimately share it with others. So with great excitement, we packed the first tray up ready to take to Droitwich Market the next day.
Of course the real test is what our customers think, so we were a little nervous as to whether they would share our enthusiasm. But we needn’t have worried – from the first person who tasted it the response was wonderful and by the end of that first market we’d sold every bar that we’d taken with us.
So just like last year, our summer special, Strawberries & Cream, has been a hit!
The good news for those customers who haven’t yet sampled this annual treat is that we still have some bars left, although this weekend will undoubtedly see the last couple of trays sold.
Thanks for reading!