Remember that cool spell of weather we endured in May/early June? Not welcome at all and certainly stunted the growth of many young plants. But now we are seeing some benefits, my goodness the soft fruits are happy!
Hopefully many of you are enjoying bumper crops of soft fruit with gooseberries, strawberries, raspberries galore. Personally, I’m happy to share with the birds, providing they don’t get too greedy, and so don’t have a fruit cage or use netting. So, as soon as the fruit is ripe I’m out there jostling with the blackbirds to make sure I get my fair share.
And what a share! The fruit bushes are bursting with goodies this year. Meaning that I’m having to be more inventive than normal is ways of using the fruit. Whereas I’m very happy to share sweetpeas, beans and courgettes with neighbours I’m greedy when it comes to soft fruit and want it all to myself (and the blackbirds). Saying that my ancient tortoises, Harriet and Henrietta are rather partial to strawberries and do get lucky on occasion.
When it comes to gooseberries my all-time favourite is Delia Smith’s Very Easy One Crust Pie. Gorgeous. Gooseberry fool, jam, jelly and sauce are wonderful and rhubarb and gooseberry ice-cream is sublime.
Blackcurrant jam is a favourite in my house with my husband’s version winning first prize most years at our village show. My blackcurrant bushes always deliver enough for a bottle of blackcurrant gin or vodka and last year I made crème de cassis. Thankfully, it works equally as well with sparkling mineral water as it does with prosecco!
The triumph this year, so far, must be the strawberry gin. Ridiculously easy to make and a joy to quaff. Responsibly of course!
You will need:
450g ripe strawberries – hulled
120g caster sugar
700ml bottle gin – nothing fancy, cheap stuff will do fine
– Roughly crush the strawberries using a potato masher and place in a large kilner jar or similar
– Add the sugar and then the gin
– Seal the jar and give it a good shake
– Keep the jar at room temperature for 3 days, shaking it at least twice a day to ensure the sugar dissolves
– Strain the mixture into clean bottles. Unlike many similar concoctions, strawberry gin is ready to drink immediately. Cheers!
I’m hearing reports that rhubarb gin is very tasty. If any readers have a good recipe they’d be willing to share then I’d love to hear from you. As I’m sure would others!