We’re berry mad here at The Cooking Academy as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and cherries are now in season!
Berries are a food we should all be consuming now more than ever, as not only are they deliciously tasty, they are also high in fibre, low in fat and one of the best sources of antioxidants and vitamin C to boost our immune systems. Berries are also good for the heart and keep you looking younger, so what’s not to like.
So how can you tell if your berry is ready to be eaten?
Firstly ensure that the whole berry is rich and vivid in colour. For example, a strawberry should be a deep red throughout, if it is still white on the inside or around the leaf area, this is a sign that it’s still under-ripe. If possible, give them a slight squeeze! Ripe berries should be soft yet still firm and plump. If they are easily squashed between your fingers or mushy this means the fruit has now passed its best. When harvesting, the berry should fall off the plant. If you need to give them a slight tug, it means they are not ready to be picked or eaten.
Incidentally, blueberries aren’t actually blue, but deep purple, which is the colour of anthocyanin, a pigment that is especially rich in blueberries. The anthocyanin is an anti-inflammatory agent. Generally the darker the berry the more anthocyanins are present. Essentially, the darker the colour of a food, the higher the contents of antioxidants and nutrients will be, and the healthier the food. In fact, one health and nutrition study found that those who ate purple fruit and vegetables regularly had a reduced risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.
We took our own advice and went strawberry picking to ensure we had the juiciest, plumpest strawberries to cook with and promptly rewarded ourselves with a well-deserved treat of tea and our rather scrumptious rhubarb and strawberry pudding! A beautifully moist sponge, topped with sweet and tangy rhubarb and strawberry compote is perfect for summer garden parties with friends, or just to enjoy with afternoon tea, not that we need an excuse to eat a pudding.
The recipe was inspired by our dear colleague over in California, Shanna, who regularly contributes to our blogs and you can follow her delicious recipes on Instagram @shannawashungry
Our nutritional cookery class also provides information relating to nutritionally dense ingredients such as the use of nuts, seeds and berries in cooking.
Rhubarb And Strawberry Pudding
FOR THE fruit TOPPING
3 stalks of rhubarb
40g brown sugar
4 tsp corn flour
FOR THE SYRUP
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp brown sugar
FOR THE sponge
190g plain flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
¼ tsp salt
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp honey or maple syrup
125 ml rapeseed oil
180 ml buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk, use regular milk and omit the water)
40 ml water
- Firstly, grease a bundt tin or a cake tin without a loose bottom and preheat the oven to 180º C or gas mark 4
- Prepare all the fruit and place into a bowl. Add the sugar and corn flour and stir together. Leave to rest for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt the butter and sugar and let it all melt together for 2 mins. Add this mixture to the bottom of the sponge tin.
- Now add the fruit mixture on top of this and set aside.
- To make the sponge, add all the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix.
- Next add the liquid ingredients to the bowl and mix together. Pour the sponge mixture on top of the fruit in the tin.
- Bake for approximately 30-35 minutes. When you press the top, the cake should bounce back. Or if you insert a skewer, it should come out clean.
- Let it cool slightly and serve.
Kumud Gandhi is a Nutritional Food Scientist bestselling Author, Broadcaster, and Keynote Speaker on the subject of nutritional health for productivity & performance in the workplace. In 2010 Kumud founded ‘The Cooking Academy’ a cookery school that focusses on cooking for nutritional health and wellbeing. Kumud regularly presents to international audiences on a variety of topics such as ‘Eating for Immunity and a Lifetime of Wellness’. She is an expert in the field of Wellness in the Workplace and works with organizations to create transformational change in employee health & well-being through nutrition and health coaching.