the perfect strawberry bellini

i’ve made strawberry bellinis a few times but have never been happy with the result that comes from using a strawberry puree – the texture of the drink, even when i sieve the puree to try and get it really smooth, has never been what i hoped for; the flavour has also never had the freshness and perfume that is so wonderful in a ripe flavoursome strawberry.

so, when i read belinda harley’s method for allowing her strawberries to “ooze” i was intrigued. i had thought about using the method that i adopted for my strawberry shrub, but that relies on sugar to lure out the strawberry juices, whereas this version just uses a bit of heat and a bain marie technique.

while i was making this it smelt amazing  and fresh but towards the end of the time specified it started to smell a bit “cooked” – more like strawberry jam than fresh fruit. i was worried i’d ruined it. the resulting juice also had that slightly jammy flavour (and was very much not sweet!) but once it was added to my fizz (i used a dry cava) it was absolutely perfect. the resulting bellini is clear, fresh flavoured and full of strawberry perfume. i will definitely be using this method again.

belinda harley's greek-inspired strawberry bellinis - the following will serve about a dozen glasses.

wash the strawberries but leave them whole; no need to hull them (abby note: i halved the larger strawberries). place them in a large ceramic bowl or pudding basin, and cover it securely with clingfilm. place the bowl inside a deep pan, and fill the pan with water to halfway up the ceramic bowl: this is your bain-marie. cover the pan and simmer gently for an hour. you will find that the strawberries ooze out their juice as if in the warmth of the sun. place a large sieve over a bowl, and cover the surface of the sieve with muslin.

gently tip out the strawberry mush onto the muslin, and allow it to drip through into the bowl over a couple of hours (abby note: i used a fine sieve and barely managed to wait 10 minutes!). press down with the back of a spoon to extract as much juice as possible.

you will find that a litre pudding basin takes 500g of strawberries, which should make 500ml of beautiful, clear strawberry juice. repeat with separate batches, as you need. it can be stored sealed in sterilised bottles in the fridge for up to three days; but do not allow it to get warm, as it will ferment! simply add to chilled prosecco; though i must admit i like it with dry champagne.