The Joys of A Really Fruity Weekend...

Mabel3_1

Oh darlings, what fun we had! We went fruit picking at the weekend, partly because we had friends coming for dinner and partly because we had a couple of munchkins to entertain at the time and nothing excites children more than strawberry picking (with the added benefit of getting them out of the house and into some fresh air): I think it has something to do with them being allowed to eat fruit straight from the bush!

We set the children the task of strawberry picking whilst my friend and I chose gooseberries (I rather like the red gooseberries as they are much sweeter and I had plans for a rather splendid crumble). We managed to pick two large punnets of gooseberries before moving onto tayberries, and although they are coming to the end of season, the bushes were full and the taste is uniquely light and refreshing. A little later the children returned having gathered plenty of strawberries and we headed back home…

When the children had gone, and peace was restored to Chez Mabel, I rustled up a Gooseberry and Elderflower Crumble for that evening and made plans for Gooseberry Chutney with the remainder. The tayberries became Tayberry Jam the following day and we had the strawberries with some thick jersey cream the following morning as a naughty little breakfast treat…

Gooseberry Chutney

2 lbs. (900g) green gooseberries

1 lb. (450g) raisins, stoned

1lb (450g) onions (finely chopped)

3 oz. (75g) pounded mustard seed

1 oz. (25g) salt

1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

1 pint (570ml) malt vinegar

1. Put the gooseberries, vinegar, onions, mustard seed and sugar in a preserving pan and boil for 45 minutes

2. Add the raisins, salt and pepper and simmer for 5 minutes

4. Bottle in warmed, clean jars and label

Very good with cold meats but particularly smoked mackerel

Tayberry Jam

4LB (1.8kg)tayberries (this works equally well with any soft berries but if you can find them, give tayberries a go - I think you will be pleasantly surprised)

4LB (1.8kg) jam sugar with added pectin

15g (1/2oz) unsalted butter

Put all the berries and the sugar into a large heavy based pan and heat slowly, stirring all the time until all the sugar has dissolved. Add the butter and increase the heat, bring to a full rolling boil and boil for exactly 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to stand for one minute, then pot and cover immediately.

Don’t worry if any scum appears whilst dissolving the sugar as when you add the butter this will disperse.

This would go splendidly with some of Mimi's “straight from the freezer scones” and clotted cream.

Gooseberry and Elderflower Crumble

2LB (1.8kg) gooseberries

5oz (125gm) caster sugar

1 Tablespoon cornflower

1 fl oz (30ml) elderflower cordial

4oz (100g) plain or whole wheat flour

4oz (100g) jumbo porridge oats

3oz (75g) butter, at room temperature

4oz soft brown sugar

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4, 350F (180C)

Put the gooseberries, elderflower cordial, caster sugar and cornflower in a bowl and stir gently (you want to keep the gooseberries whole) until all the berries are coated with the elderflower syrup mixture and then pour the gooseberries into a pie dish.

Place the flour in a large mixing bowl then add the butter and rub it into the flour using your finger tips. When the butter has been rubbed in lightly mix in the oats and sugar.

Sprinkle the crumble mixture evenly over the gooseberries.

Place the crumble in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes until the top is tinged with brown.

Beautiful with ice cream, cream or custard.

Lots of love, from Mabel!