Wednesday, 4 August 2010
Who doesn't love summertime? I love long warm evenings sitting on the patio, all of the vibrant colours and flowers, the more relaxed feeling, and especially all of the fantastic fresh produce. There are so many fantastic fruits and vegetables that are in season during the summer.
I don't remember ever eating gooseberries before moving to Britain. They're certainly a very British fruit, but I've grown to love them. It's a bit late for gooseberries really now, but you may still be able to find fresh ones. I have a gooseberry bush, but unfortunately didn't get any fruit off of it this year. (My gooseberry bush died from the extreme cold this winter and then my toddler repeatedly digging it up during the spring, so we recently bought a small new bush to replace it. Hopefully we'll have home-grown gooseberries again next summer.)
My family went to a nearby farm to pick our gooseberries. I love pick-your-own farms, and even if you don't garden yourself, it's really satisfying to pick your own fruit and veg. I promise it makes it taste better. I particularly love Ganger Farm. My husband and I started going there as newlyweds, and we've kept going over the years. Now our kids love picking (well, mostly eating) fruit there.
Gooseberries are funny little fruits. The bushes have big, hard thorns, and are--I think--always a bit scrubby looking. Most people will recommend wearing leather gloves when you pick gooseberries to protect yourself from prickles. I prefer doing it without the gloves and just being careful. It makes it easier to maneuver through the bush after the best fruit and to handle the fruit gently. The fruit itself is green and kind of hairy looking. Gooseberries taste quite tart on their own, and when ripe have an almost grape-like crunchiness to them.
My favourite way to eat gooseberries is to make gooseberry jam. These tart little berries make a fantastic jam than you can save to enjoy all year long. This is my daughter Miriam's favourite jam.
How To Make Gooseberry Jam
Before I begin making the jam, I get the jars ready. You can buy jam jars, or just reuse any glass jar with a metal screw-on lid (preferably the type with the pop down seal). You can also use Kilner style glass jars. It just needs to have a good air-tight seal. Always sterilize jars before using.