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Reasons To Believe – Locally Grown Strawberries in Nigeria

by on January 27, 2012

When we returned home last August, my older sister told me about strawberry season in Nigeria – January/winter to you in some parts of the world. I was convinced it was a joke. Till last Friday when I held a pack in hand.

Granted, those weren’t the first strawberries we’d had since our return. In December, we were in Lagos at a delightful French shop, L’Epicerie when I spotted strawberries and Lemon melisse. The rest was history. Pricey history no doubt but one that soothed the bellies and souls of my red-berry crazed bunch. They were imported from some country. Israel perhaps.

Not the ones I took receipt of last week – those are grown here, ….. in Nigeria. In the central-northern region of Jos, which is mountainous and temperate and able to grow a range of ‘Western’  fruits and veggies – Cauliflower and Broccoli amongst them.

At an altitude of 4,062 feet (1,217 m) above sea level, Jos enjoys a more temperate climate than much of the rest of Nigeria. Average monthly temperatures range from 70° to 77°F or 21° to 25°C,from mid-November to late January, and night-time temperatures may drop as low as 8°C resulting in chilly nights. Hail is common during the rainy season, owing to the cool high-altitude weather.These cooler temperatures have meant that from colonial times until present day, Jos has been a favourite holiday location for both tourists and expatriates based in Nigeria. Situated almost at the geographical centre of Nigeria and about 179 km (111 mi) from Abuja, the nation’s capital, Jos is linked by road, rail and air to the rest of the country.

And considering their ‘foreigness’, they aren’t that expensive – they cost roughly 4 euros/punnet. And I in my possession have 4!

A “punnet” is a small shallow basket which in the past was used as an old country measure of volume. In the United Kingdom, a punnet of strawberries weighs about 450g, roughly a pound. 

As you do when you have loads of strawberries (about 1.6kg/4 punnets), you get some cream.


Whip it to delightful peaks with the finest vanilla powder known to man – don’t forget the caster sugar.
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You make some wafers (or cookies….or buy some). Macerate loads of strawberries and call a party that includes friends and neighbours.


You lay out petite verrine glasses and long stemmed spoons and the party begins. First the strawberries, then dollops of sweet, light cream. To top? Shredded mint leaves and the fine zest of a fresh lemon. The kids are oohing and aahing and saying, ‘These strawberries taste exactly like the ones from Holland’. We have some guests who just moved back from the UK and they say ‘These strawberries taste exactly like the ones in London’. And they do. They are sweet and meaty, infused with strawberry fragrance. Ok, they are not the prettiest ones I’ve ever seen but what they lack in looks they more than make up for in flavour.


In no time, the dish is empty, licked clean, juices drunk…..and everyone’s happy.


But that’s half of the story. The other half? Turns into Strawberry-White Chocolate-Peppermint ice cream. You heard me. 1 cup of my new favourite frosting made of white chocolate, cream and mint essence meets 1 cup of leftover whipped cream, and 1 cup of strawberry puree made by passing hulled strawberries through my potato ricer.


An overnight chill follows while my ice cream bowl freezes….And then on the 2nd day, churn, churn and our pink delight is ready. Rosy-hued, creamy, fresh with mint and rich with flecks of strawberry fruit! The strawberry flavour emerges clearly and not overly sweet. We love it. However, I believe the white chocolate/mint combo would work well on its own, not necessarily with my strawberries, plus there is a slight grittiness that is on the ‘finish’. I say all this but we loved the ice cream – next  time, I’ll stick to just strawberries.


There are so many reasons to be grateful. Strawberries and cream, with lemon and mint….in Nigeria is only one of them.

What are you thankful for?

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  • vita
    December 3, 2013 at 7:04 PM

    Was wondering do you have the contact details for the farm


  • Hadiza
    April 20, 2012 at 10:16 PM

    i came across the site while searching for the location of zakari farms. The farm is really ‘it’ when it comes to strawberries and vegetables that you can only find in the western world! Thoughi did not locate any information on the site, i stumble into yours. Nice work!!!!!!


  • February 22, 2012 at 6:40 PM

    Cool! Cant wait for the farmers there to grow huge apples and pear. Sick of paying top naira for the mushy and sometimes tasteless stuff we buy here all in the name of importation :$
    Great site, off to explore some more of it (flew in from Timbuktu Chronicles)


  • February 10, 2012 at 10:23 PM

    I am perusing your blog (when I should be in bed!), and I am digging it! Like your mom, I was an English teacher, and I am really enjoying your writing style. :) My family and I live in Nigeria (in Jos, actually, where I, too, just rejoiced over some (more expensive than I’m used to since I hail from Florida) strawberries), and my best friend sent me your blog – said she’s addicted to it 😉 – so of course I had to check it out. She is doing some research to try to get me to cook outside my comfort zone of western foods (with the occasional plantain thrown in 😉 ). I am definitely going to stalk your blog and look forward to learning more about Nigerian cooking. And maybe even actually trying to cook it instead of just reading about it. 😉


    • February 11, 2012 at 11:02 PM

      Hi Christie – thanks for stopping by. I’m glad you’re enjoying my musings and mostly good English :-) and I’m so thrilled for the good friends you have! I know what you mean about comfort food – it is perfectly honest. But I do feel that a bit of plantain, boiled yam and other local delights would enrich your stay here and allow you compare home cooking with something new – and would inspire a lot. I speak from experience – living in the Netherlands and in the UK before that! I’ll email you soon. X


  • January 31, 2012 at 7:43 PM

    Thanks for your comments – the world is unified with strawberries and cream! Lots of love X X X


  • Krista
    January 31, 2012 at 1:43 AM

    Oh!! What a glorious discovery, dear Oz! :-) I can imagine how happy your heart was at such a find. :-) The things you made with these precious berries are gorgeous and delicious. Hooray! :-)


  • January 29, 2012 at 2:32 PM

    Strawberries evoke many strong childhood memories for me, so there is absolutely nothing not to love about them.


  • January 29, 2012 at 1:27 PM

    How wonderful to find fresh strawberries that are local to boot. You certainly did them justice. Well done And the ice-cream sounds delish :)


  • January 29, 2012 at 3:46 AM

    You are so lucky to have fresh strawberries now. Where I live we are having winter, so it will be months until the local strawberries are ready to pick. I thought your pictures are very lovely.


  • January 28, 2012 at 10:35 PM

    What a special treat and surprise to you, local strawberries I dare say you paid less for strawberries than I do.


  • January 28, 2012 at 8:34 AM

    I can hear a squeal of delight exuding from this post. I’m so excited that you discovered local strawberries, this means that you can grow them yourself. There really is nothing like a sweet juicy and ripe strawberry, and you’ve put the ones you found to good use.


    • January 31, 2012 at 7:31 PM

      Christine :-), you are a smart cookie….though it is warmer down south where I live, I do have a pack of strawberry seeds….that I brought with me to try! Hope our baby is growing well X X X


  • January 28, 2012 at 5:19 AM

    I love your writing. I can get hungry just looking at your words. The photos just make my tummy rumble louder. :)


  • January 27, 2012 at 11:30 PM

    Strawberries and cream…there is hardly anything better, don’t you think? Local strawberries won’t be here for months, but your photos give me hope.


  • Tesei
    January 27, 2012 at 10:26 PM

    What a lovely post. Being grateful for the simple pleasures of life is sthg we can all do, it’s free and easy. Thank you for reminder, have a great week end :)


  • January 27, 2012 at 10:02 PM

    I love the passion that you find in food, even a simple bowl of fresh strawberries. I would love to hear you speak in person, you write so poetic. Our Florida strawberries are in season now and it is such a joy to bring home a quart of the ruby colored gems! I will have to try them with mint and lemon zest (my lemon tree if full right now too). I am thankful to live in Florida where the sun shines so often and being able to have fresh lemons, mangoes, bananas, papayas and pineapples right in my own back (or front) yard! :)


    • January 31, 2012 at 7:34 PM

      Thank you Lyndsey, food has given me so much comfort over the years….It epitomises hope and creativity and all the wonderful things I enjoy about life. I am touched by your words. Do try them with mint and lemon zest – a delight! And I feel you about tropical living, especially with the wonderful fruits on offer. Stay well


  • Ann Pleij
    January 27, 2012 at 9:17 PM

    At this moment I am thankful for YOU. You make me appreciate the beauty of food! The way you write about it, the way you photograph it. The art in it…simply appreciating food in a pure way! Love you and miss you! xx


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