Because of the diverse nature of the many different restaurants and chefs Brian Henry has worked under he is highly proficient at a wide range of cuisines.

Brian’s cooking is seasonal, inventive and smart, but in no way unapproachable or fussy. When he is coaxed out of the kitchen and starts talking about food, his passion and knowledge are instantly recognizable.

"Chef Brian Henry cooked a series of delicious appetizers for us as we sat around a table in the kitchen". Thanks

Tony Aspler, Wine writer

“Chef Brian Henry puts one hundred percent of his energy into going all the way.”

Birgit Moenke, Editor Stir Media Read More Reviews

Gastronomically yours,

Choosing a wild or tame Strawberry

With summer solstice only a few days away it’s hard not to be excited for the change of season but it will also usher in the local strawberry season and what better way to celebrate the taste of summer than to delve into our local bounty of strawberries.

The wild Woodland Strawberry is native to North America. Its fruits are considerably dwarfed by Ontario cultivated strawberries which are a hybrid of the Woodland strawberry and the European strawberry. Wild strawberries are dainty almost elfin with their conical shape which grow in tight little clusters and have an intense flavor that is fueled by a comparatively higher sugar content with less acidity than cultivated varieties. The wild variety can be seen growing almost everywhere from fields, forests, along streams and even our yards.

Foraging for enough wild strawberries to prepare a modest amount of jam will take about 3-4 hours and another hour or two to hull which will see your harvest shrink by 20% due to the berry to hull size ratio. This is if you do not pop any of these juicy prized morsels in your mouth during this tedious process.

 

Cultivated Ontario strawberries are picked fresh every morning and delivered within a few hours to markets and grocers. These berries are picked only when ripe as they will no longer ripen once harvested which means they are as fresh as you can get and will need to be consumed within a day or two as their thin skin and fragile structure makes them susceptible to quick deterioration.

Comparatively imported berries are usually picked while still green. They are then sprayed with a chemical cocktail that forces their ripening process to occur. This ripening process occurs while the berries are in transport over a couple of days while they cover a distance of often exceeding 4500 kms.  The result is an oversized blood red berry with minimal flavour, a woody texture and often hollow centers.

Farmer’s markets and grocers will soon be gushing with locally grown strawberries as will our forests and field with the wild variety. Whichever berry variety you choose you will be able to preserve their flavor to enjoy year round using the following recipe for

 

Kawartha Strawberry Jam

Ingredients:

3 cups wild strawberries, hulled

1 ¾ cups sugar

1 large lemon, zested and juiced

 

Method:

In a stainless steel or Pyrex saucepan, combine the sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice and simmer gently over low heat until the sugar is dissolved or about 7-10 minutes.  Add the strawberries and continue cooking the mixture over very low heat. After about 20-30 minutes the mixture will gently begin to boil. Stir the jam mixture every so often with a wooden spoon. After about 30-35 minutes of cooking, perform a gel test by spooning a very small amount of the jam mixture onto a well-chilled plate and letting it sit or better yet set for a while to see if it sets up firm in a jam like consistency.

Once it reaches the desired consistency you may choose to pour the jam off into sterilized mason jars and place them in the refrigerator for immediate use or follow proper canning guidelines for long term storage of our seasonal local food harvest.

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