The perfect ingredient: Bruce Farm Strawberries

James Wellock travels to Bruce Farm in the heart of Scotland in search of the perfect strawberry – and makes the first pick of the season.

Nestled between the Sidlaw Range and Grampian Mountains, in its own natural valley, is family-owned Bruce Farm. The farm itself is one of Scotland’s biggest and best, and with over 100 years of farming tradition, combines modern, traditional and natural methods.

The Bruce family have farmed in this area since 1898, originally farming cereal, potatoes and livestock. It wasn’t until Geoff Bruce joined his father Bill as director of the farm in the early 1990s that they expanded into soft-fruits, today producing 1000 tonnes of soft fruits a year.

What makes the region so special, and particularly fantastic for growing strawberries, is a combination of the soil, the water coming from the River Isla and the temperate climate in the valley. “It’s a great area for farming,” says Geoff. “The water we use comes from the river, the soil is very good, and the climate is temperate. All these things combine to create a terroir that makes a slow growing strawberry and adds to the taste and the flavour.”

A slow-grown strawberry – also known as a 60-day strawberry – is a strawberry plant that from the day it is planted takes around 60 days to produce the first red berry. At Bruce Farm this process takes 70 – 75 days which produces what we believe is the perfect strawberry. For Geoff, “It’s that difference in the timeline that gives it extra taste, extra flavour and all round goodness.”

Bruce Farm strawberries are also soil grown in virgin soil which is light, free draining and fertile and are pollinated naturally using honey bees that have been provided their own special home on Bruce Farm. Strawberries are grown in polytunnels which create a fantastic microclimate, keep off the rain and have meshed entrances to prevent dramatic temperatures affecting the plants. The strawberries can also be picked at any time so that orders never get missed or delayed due to weather conditions.

Berries are picked at the stalk and never touched by hand. Watch the video to see how the strawberries are picked, and see James make the first pick of the season!

The strawberries are then sent straight to the Packing Hall located on the farm for rapid cooling and are packed ready for dispatch. There’s a 24-hour turnaround from when an order is placed to the moment Wellocks delivers the product to your kitchen so the customers get a fresh and high quality product every time.

For pastry chef Robert Gordon this freshness is key. Robert is chef at one of Scotland’s top urban restaurants, the Michelin-starred Pompadour by Galvin at Waldorf Astoria in Edinburgh.  “It’s a great product,” Robert says. “As a restaurant we’re striving to do better all the time – without freshness you can’t do that.” Robert uses Bruce Farm strawberries in his Sicilian Lemon Posset with Bruce Farm Strawberry Coulis and Bruce Farm Strawberry Sorbet dessert, playing with the different textures of the strawberry, and letting the flavour shine through. He has kindly shared his recipe with us here.

Bruce Farm strawberries not only taste fantastic; we love knowing that a lot of care and attention has gone into making this strawberry a super product. For us, it’s the taste, the freshness and the way it is produced that make Bruce Farm’s strawberry a perfect ingredient.

Did you know?

  • Strawberries are the only fruit that have their seeds on the outside – this technically means strawberries aren’t berries.
  • On average, strawberries have 200 seeds.
  • In France, strawberries are believed to be an aphrodisiac and are served to newlyweds at traditional wedding breakfasts in the form of a creamy sweet soup.
  • Mixing strawberries and baking soda can naturally whiten your teeth! Strawberries contain malic acid, which helps to remove stains.
  • Eight strawberries have more vitamin C than an orange.
  • Strawberries can also be white or yellow and some can even taste like pineapples.
  • They are a member of the rose family.