Sunday, 14 July 2013

Gooseberries and mud pies...

Gooseberries don't really have a lot going for them if you think about it.  They are not the first fruit one would reach for to quench thirst, satisfy sweet cravings or add to a fruit salad for colour.  They are often wincingly sour to taste, except for those resplendently purple-hued ones, but even then they wouldn't top any popularity stakes for preference.  Most gardeners these days don't think to include them in a veggie/fruit plot preferring a more contemporary blueberry bush. On the recipe front once you've explored the permutations of gooseberry crumble/pie/fool-they are most likely to be left languishing in the back of the cool drawer in the fridge. But it is strange how we seem to have a few  references to gooseberries -goosegogs as they are fondly known in my northern homeland-in our English language..."Being a gooseberry" is a most odd way of explaining the deeply embarrassing predicament many of us may have found ourselves in, when a friend has bribed us to accompany them on a what could turn out to be a "date" with a suitor....yep I know you've been there sat on the back row trying to concentrate on the dreary movie, eyes averted and wishing you could make a hasty escape....."Under the gooseberry bush" is the phrase used when one finds oneself trying to avoid any "birds and the bees" talk with a young child who is curious to know about the arrival of babies....and to complicate the story the baby is brought by the stork and dropped under the said bush!

I do not have a gooseberry bush in my garden, but yes I admit to a couple of blueberry bushes, a whole forest of raspberry canes and some extremely productive strawberry plants. So I bought a punnet of gooseberries with a definite purpose in mind.  Before getting on with that purpose, my young 10 year-old daughter had a couple of friends over to play; a lovely hot afternoon playing with water and supposedly being in the care of her father-who had his head stuck under the bonnet of the car, car manual at his side.  I went out - what could go wrong?!? I had given him strict instructions that he must keep checking on the girls, in fact perhaps it would be a good idea to leave the car job and take a break. On my return I was warned not to go into the kitchen by a very, very harassed and agitated husband!  so as I walked into the back garden with extreme trepidation and foreboding  I was met with the sight of the three little girls smeared with mud, making mud pies using the soil from the mole hills in the garden-as well as flushing the mole runs with water carried from the kitchen - sorry to any animal rights readers - and in one of the many kitchen bowls taken from my cupboards was the most interesting gooseberry mud pie of all!  Now I am all for trying out new tastes and recipes - but this is one I definitely would not recommend!

However I WOULD recommend this one-an experiment that really worked well...Gooseberry and Elderflower Ice cream....500ml double cream, 4 egg yolks-Olivia is a dab hand at separating yolks and whites, 3 tbsps. of sugar, swig of elderflower cordial,  sieved puree of stewed gooseberries left from a punnet that has been plundered for mud's helpful if you have an ice-cream maker (mine is from Lakeland and their own basic model).  Whisk yolks and sugar add cream, stir in flavours, bung into ice-cream maker and let it do the rest.......the result is sublime! 
From this........

To this........Gooseberry and Elderflower Ice-cream


  1. Ooh... I'll have to try this. My grandmother always had loads of gooseberry bushes, and I have memories of wandering amongst them, eating handfuls of the sour berries. I still love sour things, and maybe that has something to do with it.

  2. Strawberries are now sat just waiting for the same treatment I think....will let you know how it goes. Trouble is I have to keep the ice-cream under lock and key with my tribe about!