As a food stylist, I have to find fruits, vegetables and other ingredients out of season all year round. Most magazines work months in advance, which leaves me looking for turkeys, and brussel sprouts during the summer and trying to find a cool place to roll out shortbread dough. By the end of the summer, I’ve usually baked and enjoyed more Christmas cookies then I will all Christmas season. What makes my job easy is living in a city like Toronto, where access to ingredients is plentiful. Though, I can always find them and they look great, the flavor is often lacking – which works for a picture, but for eating, not so much.
Since I have to buy a lot of ingredients for work when they are out of season I make a strong commitment to sourcing local ingredients when they are available. In fact, I won’t eat a strawberry unless it’s a local one. Which means, I am patiently waiting for June to roll around to taste my first strawberry all year. You just can’t compare the taste of a local strawberry in June or July to one in the middle of winter that’s being imported from another country. The smell, flavor, texture and juiciness can’t be replicated and the same goes for plenty of other summer fruits and berries.
In order to make the berry season last a little longer I make big batches of jam and even dehydrate fruits when they are in season. That way, when it’s blistering cold outside in February, I can get the taste of an Ontario strawberry on my slice of toast! During the summer, I make sure to make the most of berry season by eating them daily and incorporating them into breakfast bowls, salads at lunch and lots of different types of desserts.
My favourite dessert to make to showcase fresh berries is pavlova. An airy meringue topped with lightly whipped cream and heaps of fresh berries is the perfect way to incorporate your favorite berries into dessert. The fruit can get piled high on meringues just as it is. You can swap different types of fruits and berries on this dessert depending on what’s in season. Freshly sliced plums and peaches are equally as delicious on top of this dessert.
As I currently work on recipes for Thanksgiving and Christmas, I am going to enjoy as many berries as possible until the local season is over, now, where to find cranberries in August?!