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Payback time for all that rain - Norfolk’s strawberries are out and they’re the sweetest for years

PUBLISHED: 09:23 13 May 2014 | UPDATED: 12:18 13 May 2014

Lucy Melton at Knight's Hill Farm Shop.  Picture: Ian Burt

Lucy Melton at Knight's Hill Farm Shop. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant © 2014

It might not have gone down a treat with most of us, but the weather’s been ideal for strawberries this spring.

Growers say they're sweeter than normal this year. Growers say they're sweeter than normal this year.

Farm shops and supermarkets have the first crop of Norfolk berries on sale. And growers say they’re the sweetest they’ve tasted in donkey’s years.

Stuart Melton, whose family have grown the fruits on the outskirts of King’s Lynn for more than 60 years, said: “It’s been perfect for them because we’ve had a normal spring.

“Last year it was cold until the end of May then it came really hot, so the strawberries were really late and didn’t perform well. The year before that it was really wet.

“We’ve had a mild winter and an early spring so we’re back to normal and they do taste really sweet.”

Berry facts

Strawberries aren’t early this year, strictly speaking.

Growers say this is when they should appear, but recent springs have been too cold or too wet, delaying the fruit’s growth and ripening.

That aside, you can rest assured just eight of them give you more vitamin C than an orange, as well as being one of your five a day.

A bowl of them also contains zero fat and just 50 calories. And if you don’t fancy sprinkling them with sugar, try freshly-ground black pepper. It sounds all wrong, but it works.

More than half of children rate them as their favourite fruit. They’re an integral part of Wimbledon, where tennis fans apparently munch their way through 27,000kg of them.

Mr Melton said the first crop which went on sale at Knight’s Hill Farm Shop sold out within hours. He has now delivered fresh supplies, which are selling for £3 per 1lb punnet.

Manageress Lucy Melton - Mr Melton’s daughter, who has a strawberry grown on the family farm named after her - said the shop was selling around 65 punnets of the fruit a day.

“If we had more we could probably sell more,” she said. “Everyone’s been waiting for them, people have been asking us when they’ll be in for the last month.”

Paul Annison, the farm shop manager at Corners in Hoe, near Dereham, said they were receiving about 40 punnets a day from Sharrington Strawberries in Melton Constable. They sell the 500g punnets for £2.99 each and during their food fair on Saturday, had sold out by mid-morning.

Mr Annison said: “I couldn’t believe how good the strawberries looked from the first pick, they looked the business.”

Andrew Sinclair, co-owner of Cromer Farm and Health Shop, on Tucker Street, Cromer, also gets his strawberries from Sharrington.

Mr Sinclair reckons he can get through 300lbs on a good day.

“They sell really well because they’re really good strawberries,” he said.

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