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Word that u-pick strawberry fields would open early started circulating about 2 weeks ago. Eager to make a fresh batch of brilliant red strawberry jam, David was ready to go as soon as the berries were ripe.

This year we went to Proulx Berry Farm in Cumberland, just a couple of minutes beyond Trim Road and the nearest (encroaching) developments. In addition to u-pick, Proulx also offers seasonal produce for purchase fresh from the farm gate; early spring it’s a sugarbush. If eating luscious fresh strawberries isn’t enough for the kids, there’s an unsupervised outdoor playground and petting zoo for them.

Sunday was the perfect day for strawberry picking: sunny, but not too hot. The strawberries were big and plump—sparkling red gems among the green leaves. Easy picking too. Within an hour, the two of us had 4 big baskets (13 litres) of strawberries (and paid only $20 for them).

[I lost the pictures I took at the farm, so unfortunately I have no farm images to enliven this post.]

This year, the strawberries are bridging spring and summer. Here’s a drink I created to celebrate the strawberry season and the upcoming summer solstice.

Recipe: Sparkling Strawberry Solstice Cocktail

Sparkling Strawberry Solstice Cocktail

The Sparkling Strawberry Solstice Cocktail is a refreshing way to celebrate the strawberry season and the upcoming summer solstice.

For one 3 oz. glass:
3 tbsp strawberry puree
½ oz. Amaretto
1 tsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
Bottlegreen elderflower sparkling pressé, well chilled (available at some large supermarkets and specialty food stores, e.g. Herb & Spice)

To make the strawberry puree, slice a handful of fresh strawberries into a tall container and mix until smooth with an immersion blender. I didn’t bother straining the strawberry seeds out of the purée, but it would make a nicer looking drink.

Combine the puree, lemon juice and Amaretto in a 3 oz. glass. Fill to 2/3 with the elderflower sparkling pressé. Mix gently with a spoon. Top up with more elderflower sparkling pressé.

Recipe Variation: Sparkling Strawberry Solstice Mocktail

Replace the Amaretto with 1 ½ tsp of elderflower syrup. If you can’t find elderflower syrup, then replace with simple syrup.

I think it would be cool to come up with a strawberry-rhubarb drink using this rhubarb syrup.

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