|Dieter & Sandra’s gooseberry bush with boutique hen house in the background|
To reach the gooseberries I feel a little like a kiwi Gretel walking through a charming pathway through manuka woods to arrive in a clearing where fruit trees and two lucky hens live in the cutest hen house.
These lucky hens have a sheltered spot with a wonderful view over to the back bays of the Peninsula. I couldn’t believe one gooseberry bush could have so much fruit. I got to work accompanied by the cluck of hens and the buzz from a nearby beehive. What is even better – the gooseberry bush is on a slope so I could easily pick from underneath and avoid those mean prickles.
After gathering a large shopping bag of gooseberries, then its the mundane task of topping and tailing. Alternatively you can just throw the gooseberries into a bag in the freezer as they freeze free flow and top and tail as you use them throughout the year. The gooseberries have to be picked green for cooking purposes and for eating leave them to ripen (if the birds don’t beat you). You can also buy red skinned varieties and these I think are the nicest ones to eat raw.
|Gooseberries top and tailed|
In my September posting I showed you my sister Kerry’s espaliered gooseberry with the fruits just forming. Here is a follow up shot of them after one harvest. This makes picking even easier and the branches were absolutely laden. I think this is a great way to deal with the prickly gooseberry bush.
|Kerry’s espalier gooseberry bush makes picking easy|
The Versatile Gooseberry
Note: I converted the imperial measurements Mum used to metric. When I recently followed the metric recipe I found it did need a little extra flour. Put in the measurement and then add enough flour to make the dough workable on a floured surface. It should be a very soft dough but it can’t be that sticky that you find it difficult to gently roll out with the help of a sprinkling of flour.
|Gooseberries cooked with Elder flower blossoms and Sweet Cicely to aid the sweetening|
Spiced Gooseberry Chutney by Chef Heidi Fink
|Peter’s preferred chutney was the one with Bengali spices|
Both these blogs have excellent ideas so I have supplied the links to the recipes to give you the opportunity to go exploring these blogs over the Christmas holidays.
|Rob’s Gooseberry & Orange Jam with The Times Cookery Book|
5. Gooseberry & Elder Flower Fool – This is a simple and most delicious way of enjoying the flavours of Gooseberry. It can be made in a moment if you have already prepared the fruit. You don’t want it to be too watery. If you don’t have elder flowers to hand you can simply add some elder flower cordial.
|I presented the Gooseberry Fool in a Temuka coffee cup with my New Zealand shortbread
and a sprig of elder flower
You can make a fool with all cream, or a mix of cream and thick yogurt, or with a mix of custard and cream. Play around with the combination you like the best. I used two-third cream and one-third yogurt because the fruit is quite tart. If the fruit was sweeter I would have gone 50/50.
Simply beat up the cream until thick and doesn’t drop off the beater. Next fold in the yogurt or custard and then the fruit puree. You can use any fruit for this but tart fruit is best. Blackcurrant or rhubarb fool is also good. You need to allow it to chill well before serving. It’s a lovely dessert to have on a hot summer’s evening.
|Glossy, sweet Strawberries from Dieter’s Glasshouse|
It’s now towards the end of the gooseberry season here. The gooseberry is stepping aside for delicious strawberries, currants and raspberries. Dieter has his strawberries growing in large black pots. I think this is something I might try because many of my strawberries get eaten or rot if the ground is too wet. Picking the strawberries hanging over the edge of the pot make for easy and perfect pickings….just like Kerry’s espaliered gooseberries.