The British summer isn’t complete without Wimbledon and a healthy serving of strawberries. The spectators at Wimbledon will consume around 28,000 kilos of English Strawberries – that’s around 2,000 kilos a day!
Known as ‘The Strawberry Coast’, the Hamble Valley has a long association it has with the harvest of the soft fruit. In the early part 20th century the strawberry fields around the areas of Botley, Hedge End and Titchfield produced around 20,000 strawberries a day. June was the main strawberry-picking month and it would involved the whole family. They would rise at 4am to and be given four three-pound baskets (often made by the inmates of Winchester Prison) to fill to ensure that the first consignments would catch the 8am ‘Strawberry Specials’ out of Botley train station for early delivery to London’s Premier Hotels.
The pickers would tie three baskets around their waist and hold the other to pick into. Once they were all full, they were taken to a weighing and packing shed and the picker would be given a disk, worth two pence (h’penny a basket). At the end of the day the disks would be counted and recorded and at the end of the week, redeemed. It is on record that one 12 year old girl picked 30 shillings worth by the first Friday – an astonishing 900lbs of strawberries, and 3000 lbs (1000 baskets) over one month.
Whilst the strawberry trade in the Hamble Valley isn’t as ripe as it once was, there are still places to Pick Your Ownincluding the glorious Pickwell Farm located in Bursledon and Arturis Garden Centre in Allington Lane.
There are plenty of strawberry recipes under the Fork and Cork pages including: Traditional Strawberry Cake, Strawberry Savarin from Botley Park Hotel, Open Strawberry Tart from Strawberry Cottage Bed and Breakfast in Hedge End and a Strawberry Pavlova.