If you, like me, always keep a stash of frozen berries in your freezer you are most likely one of the many Australians who now wonder if the berries you ate contained Hepatitis A. Hopefully you’ve either thrown them out, or returned them somewhere for a refund. I would imagine this affects many many people, especially with the current trend of making smoothies and pulsed juices in those nutri-bullet style gadgets that are everywhere at the moment. So many kids love berries too, and imagine all the muffins made around Australia from frozen berries! Scary stuff.
It makes me start to wonder about where other frozen products come from? I think these days we are all pretty good at looking at where our fresh products come from. But frozen? And yes it’s a nice thought to be able to go down to your farmers market to buy seasonal produce every week and freeze or preserve you own – but we don’t all live in a place where we have farmers markets.
Port Hedland, my home, is a hot dry place without a farm in sight. We rely on the fruit and vegetables that come up from the city 2000km away in refrigerated trucks. Sometimes the produce is not ideal, so being able to have a frozen product that you trust stashed away for when you just can’t get what you need is vital.
I guess, then, it comes down to looking further than where our fresh food comes from, but all our food. Frozen, jarred, refrigerated, in packets and cans. At the end of the day, we should be supporting our local suppliers, artisans and Australian companies (but just make sure the product is actually made and packed in our country too), by our strict standards. Not only are you looking after your own health and well being but you are looking after Australian food, and people who make food here they are proud of, that is of supreme quality, and has not been skipped on hygiene or flavour to try to get a cheaper product. You get what you pay for and that’s an age old saying that is true in every sense.
Getting back to berries, don’t stop eating them! They are so good for you and full of antioxidants. If you want to really know where they come from, growing a little patch of strawberries in your yard is easy as pie. The kids will love checking for fresh strawberries each day, and honestly if you haven’t tasted a ripe strawberry, picked fresh from the garden still warm from the sun, you haven’t lived!
You can get fresh strawberries pretty much all year round these days, but of course they are best when in season; springtime and summer. My favourite way to eat them as a kid was sliced and sprinkled with a little sugar. Let them sit for a couple of minutes and the strawberries start to release some of their natural juice which forms a slight natural syrup alongside the sugar. Or blend them in a smoothie, adding some superfoods like kale or broccoli to create a delicious and healthy start to the day.
The strawberries we buy in the supermarket aren’t always as sweet as they should be, but with a little coaxing, you can turn them into the most amazing berries you have ever eaten. Balsamic vinegar is my secret ingredient. You might think I’m mad but honestly, the vinegar brings out a rich sweetness that is totally addictive. Topped with a little black pepper (yes pepper), this very easy strawberry treat is really special. I love this with plain old vanilla icecream, but you could use them to fill a sponge cake, serve with scones, top a pavlova, a baked cheesecake, or serve with a big dollop of mascarpone. Click here for the recipe – you will not believe how god they are!
If you are lucky enough to find some beautiful fresh berries at your market, freeze them yourself by storing in snap lock bags. Date them and use within 3 months. Add them frozen to any dessert, or defrost prior to eating. They won’t be as crisp as fresh, but at least you know who packed them!