Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Rhubarb or Gooseberries? A Difficult Choice!

As I mentioned a few posts ago, our rhubarb is enjoying a late spurt of growth. I believe there is an old wives' tale that rhubarb shouldn't be harvested after the end of June, but I've never taken any notice of that; I just make sure there are enough stems left on each crown to put some goodness back in for next season's growth. Then I can harvest until the stems either get too thick or start to wilt and die back.

2.5kg of gooseberries, ready for topping and tailing
Last weekend I took off the netting cage which was protecting the ripening gooseberries from the hungry birds. I lost my whole crop the first year I grew gooseberries, so have devised some form of protection since then, which goes on as soon as the fruit starts to ripen. Once it is removed all of the gooseberries have to be picked at once, as it's too difficult to put the netting back round the bushes. I was only just in time with the large bush of green fruit - over-ripe fruit had already fallen off the bush. The red-fruited bush, however, could have been left a little longer; although the fruit that caught the sun at the front of the bush was ripe, there was a lot of unripe fruit at the back.

Red gooseberry crumble
It's hard to resist any fruit straight from the garden, so I made a small gooseberry crumble with most of the red fruit, although hubs complained that I hadn't added my usual oats to the crumble mixture. I added some crushed amaretti biscuits to the flour and butter mixture instead of sugar, which added enough sweetness and some crunch, but the lack of oats made the crumble a bit dry and powdery.

Freeform rhubarb pie
Earlier in the week, I'd made a small freeform rhubarb pie with some shortcrust pastry left over after making a sausage pie. This meant we had two high-carbohydrate desserts in the space of a week, which is almost unheard of these days, but it helped me to decide what to do with the bulk of the gooseberry crop. I'm quite happy eating cooked rhubarb with yogurt, as a healthier dessert, but gooseberries really need to be cooked into a pie, crumble or cake. So, somewhat reluctantly, the gooseberries went into the freezer, saved for future baking sessions, and we'll go on enjoying the rhubarb, picked as required, for a little longer.

Of course, blackberries will soon be ready to harvest, and it looks as if it will be a bumper crop this year!

1 comment:

belleau kitchen said...

I haven't been back to the cottage in so many weeks I know the birds will have eaten my purple gooseberries. So I shall live vicariously through your gorgeous pictures!