When I am not singing the praises of the delicious rhubarb, that is ready for pulling late spring early summer, I am plucking and then tucking into my other favourite fruit the Gooseberry!
We have a bush in the garden but this year, the first year in the ground, it hasn’t taken yet so no home grown Gooseberries for us. However, my family have a mass of fruit on theirs so share in the delights, and the local market allotment stall subsidised the rest.
Unlike some berry bushes though, even the smallest of Gooseberry bush can really produce an abundance of green or red grape like berries with fair fur and the odd prickle.
Raw they are quite tart but don’t let that put you off, stewed in some sugar or honey and they are delicious. Very different to other fruits ready for harvest now like the strawberry.
So what can you do with them…?
But one recipe I found a few years ago and have stuck with is a gorgeous Gooseberry crumble. On its own I am sure it would be fantastic but throw in some Elderflower cordial, just at the end of its harvest season now, and this crumble is even better!
To serve 2:
Take: 500g Gooseberries,
top and tail them,
1 table spoon of honey,
1 table spoon of Elderflower cordial (more or less to suit taste),
2 table spoons of sugar,
1 table spoon of water,
Throw the above into a pie dish and bake on 180C for 10 minutes so that the Gooseberries start to soften.
Then to make the crumble topping mix 2.5 table spoons of sugar, 30g butter, 65g flour and about 2 table spoons of crumbled nuts (I use flaked almonds and crunched hazelnuts).
Rub the mix together to make a slightly thicker than breadcrumb consistency and evenly distribute over the hot Gooseberry mix. Back into the oven for another 25 minutes.
When its ready it will have a crunchy top and the edges will ooze the sticky Gooseberry mix and give a nice chewy texture in places.
Great on its own due to the liquid from the Gooseberries but if you do need to add some custard then why not! The Elderflower cordial really gives a fragrant taste to the crumble and the nuts add a nice crunch to the top.
So I could leave it there but I suppose if you are going to make the crumble you might as well make the cordial and knowing how simple it is you will be amazed.
This quantity made 1 large Kilner bottle and 1 small, I think about 1.25 litres.
Take 10 Elderflower heads, they grow on Elder trees and smell very fragrant as you brush past them. They have little white flowers with yellowish bits.
Give them a swill from bugs and a tip is to choose ones not on a main road so they haven’t been polluted.
Put about 750ml of water in a deep pan turn up the heat and stir in 1kg of sugar.
Stir until dissolved, then take it off the heat and add the Elderflower heads.
Add some lemons, real, or splash in the fake stuff. I use the stuff out of the bottle and its fine.
Then cover with a towel and leave over night/24 hours.
When ready, strain through a muslin cloth or tea towel and then poor into sterile bottles.
Your cordial is ready to enjoy!
Use this like a normal cordial, a small amount diluted with water and store out of direct sun light.
I don’t use citric acid but found that it keeps for over a year in an air tight bottle.
So there we have it a fruit and a flower both in harvest in early Summer.
A perfect combo on a bright Summer evening when you fancy a hot pudding thats a bit different to a strawberry!