The taste of freshly picked sweet berries heralds the onset of summer
The warmth of the sun heralds the arrival of sweet glistening blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries - a treat to savour.
Berries - especially strawberries it seems - appear earlier each year. The season runs from spring to late summer depending on the weather so if your eyes light up at the sight of gorgeous glossy specimens at other times of the year, take a moment to check where they come from.
It is worth holding tight and waiting to enjoy our specific flavours and to support the godzone industry.
Now is the ideal time to start enjoying delicious sun-ripened berries.
They taste wonderful on their own plucked straight from the vine of course, but try pairing with rich, dark chocolate - a classic match as shown in the ganache tartlet recipe. Making your own chocolate pastry is a sure way to impress creating an elegant dessert or party canape.
Different berries work well with savoury flavours - not just the blackberry and venison combo of old.
The sweetness of fresh berries - I have used raspberries and strawberries but blackberries and blueberries or a combination would work just as well - matched with the tartness of goat feta and the salt of crispy bacon, is a good one. Add a few fresh spinach and rocket leaves then a drizzle of light grain mustard dressing and you have a satisfying salad.
The third recipe uses a sweet boysenberry cider to marinate the berries, then, when extra juicy, they are piled on to sponge fingers and paired with lemon curd, cream and a little vanilla bean syrup.
It's quite simple, but decadent, and a nice recipe to keep up your sleeve for trifle alternatives in the festive season ahead.
Only refrigerate berries if you are not using straight away. Berries taste best when eaten while still warm from the sun - try not to serve them cold, the flavour is noticeably inferior.