The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes. MARCEL PROUST

If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. WILLIAM BLAKE

Wanderer, there is no way; the way is made by walking. ANTONIO MACHADO

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Gooseberries


We planted three gooseberry bushes in our newly-designed fruit, flower and vegetable garden last year. They fruited — though not prolifically —  and the moment the fruits were ripe, the blackbirds devoured them. This year I was more savvy, and netted them against any hungry avian predators. Success! We now have a bumper crop.

What could be more splendid than the unpretentious gooseberry? I'm in love with these humble, unfashionable fruits. One of our bushes has produced green verging on golden orbs; the other two jewels of blushing pink and red. To pick them this morning —  spearing my fingers on half-inch thorns — was a masochistic delight. What to do with them? So many recipes entice: gooseberry crumble, gooseberry pie, gooseberry fool, gooseberry jam . . .

But, to start with, I opted for something simple, and utterly wonderful and flavoursome: stewed gooseberries with home-made custard (or crème anglaise, as they say in French).

I topped and tailed them, then simmered them in a little sugar and water. Amazing how this simple process miraculously transformed these tart little bullets into a delicious, pulpy, sweet-sour purée. The custard was easy: egg yolks beaten with a little cornflour added to a warmed-up mixture of milk, sugar and vanilla. Why on earth do we ever buy that synthetic tinned stuff?

A dessert made in heaven. Especially with a dollop of Madagascan vanilla ice cream.

12 comments:

Ruth Mowry said...

I have never eaten a gooseberry (do we have them here?), but you make me wish I had!

Amanda said...

Oh my gosh, you brought me back. The last time I ate gooseberries was when I attended an English convent school and the nuns served them to us with custard.

How strange that I've never seen them in the States. I'm taking your lead on the bird netting to try and protect my tomato crop from our predatory squirrels.

Friko said...

Oh dear me, the bushes are laden this year.
I have little interest in gooseberries, they demand cream or custard and I cannot eat either.

I suppose I shall have to find room in a freezer for them, unless I find kind people who will relieve me of a pound or five of them.

The Solitary Walker said...

They are such a seductive mixture of sour and sweet, Ruth...


... and Amanda, nuns serving you gooseberries and custard! The very ambrosia of the gods. I've now learnt to net fruit and brassicas — but from pigeons, blackbirds and cabbage white butterflies, not from squirrels!

Yes, you're right, Friko — cream and/or custard are essential accompaniments. I've picked 5lb myself, now — lucky I did this earlier as a storm has set in...

Laura said...

I have never heard of gooseberries, but I wonder if we could grow them here in Oregon. Your custard recipe sounds very simple - care to share any measurements, or should I just guess on amounts?

The Weaver of Grass said...

Our gooseberries have had a bad attack of mildew this year Robert, but I still have lots in the freezer from last year. I like a couple of handfuls in a mixed fruit crumble - they just give it a bit of bite. I like the look of your pink ones.

The Solitary Walker said...

Laura — egg custard: I warmed 500ml milk with half a cup of sugar and 1 tsp of vanilla extract, then added to this 3 beaten egg yolks whisked with 3 tsp cornflour. Should be enough for 2 or 3 people.

I made a crumble the other day, Pat — the Nigel Slater method. Excellent. Shame about your gooseberries.

About Last Weekend said...

Just nipping over to say Hi, my friend said to come on over to research The Way which my husband and I are doing in mid August

The Solitary Walker said...

Hi About Last Weekend, and welcome to my blog! Here's a link to the account of my Camino from Le Puy to Santiago, which includes the whole of the Camino Frances. Just click on 'Newer Posts' for each consecutive entry.

Cris M said...

Definitely we don´t have gooseberries in Buenos Aires... but I was thinking... would you accept an Argentinian guest for a couple of months at your home??? With the chilly peppers last year, other posts on your produce from your garden and now these heavenly fruits and custard récipe, I have decided to ask for refuge at your house!!!!!

:)
Warm hugs!
Cris

The Solitary Walker said...

Refuge? Our house is more like a maelstrom!

Go Messi...

Laura said...

Thank you!