Sunday, 9 November 2014

Gooseberry Crumble

 I'm a great believer in seasonal eating, but it's getting ever more difficult to stick to  eating just what is traditionally in season. Growing crops in poly tunnels means that even British fruit such as raspberries are available for 9 months of the year, and that's before you even consider imports from abroad. Another factor is the use of the freezer to preserve fruit and vegetables. Rather than throw away excess from a glut, or eat it for weeks ad nauseam, it can often be frozen for out of season use.

This is what happens to my gooseberries and green beans, most years; I know our forbearers bottled fruit and salted beans, but some of the original freshness was missing when these were used. If you choose your fruit well, there is no loss of quality on thawing and cooking - blackberries, gooseberries and plums in particular freeze well, but rhubarb is less successful in my opinion, so that is still a truly seasonal fruit for me. Consequently, however much I might like to stick to seasonal fruit in Autumn and Winter desserts, there are always these fruits calling to me from the freezer .

You don't really want a recipe for fruit crumble - I'm sure you all have your favourite recipes - but I thought it was worth noting that I made a successful gluten- and dairy-free crumble using a proprietary brand of gluten-free flour and pure oats (labelled as wheat, dairy and gluten free), and coconut oil instead of butter.

I used my usual recipe of 100g each of flour, oats, fat and sugar (caster in this case) to make 4-6 portions. I rub the fat into all the other ingredients, which seems to give a better texture after baking. When I'm using coconut oil, I chill the crumble mixture for 30 minutes before putting it on the fruit and baking; I do this because I was worried about the coconut oil becoming too liquid while being rubbed in (even though I handled it a little as possible to get it more or less rubbed in), and wanted to keep the effect of using a solid fat.

If I'm using a fruit which I expect to make a lot of juice when it cooks, such as gooseberries or rhubarb, as well as sweetening it, I add just a level teaspoon of ground rice for every 300g fruit. This seems to thicken the juices perfectly, without adding any unwanted flavour, and with not much change in texture. Beware of using too much though - ground rice absorbs much more liquid than other thickeners such as flour or ground almonds.

I was really pleased that the texture and flavour of the gluten- and dairy-free crumble were comparable to my usual recipe, and I was really pleased with the 'free-from' oats, from Sainsbury's, which were a lot sturdier than the usual 'value' rolled oats I use. They gave a slightly crisper finish to the baked crumble, but of course, I did pay a price premium for them!


Alicia Foodycat said...

Oh yum! I haven't had a gooseberry at all this year!

Kate@whatkatebaked said...

I was thinking exactly the same about the seasonality of fruits just the morning- we were tucking into a platter of granola and mixed fruits which contained strawberries as sweet as they taste in June... not, as I traditionally would have thought, in November

Charlene F said...

Mmmm lovely, I've never tried gooseberry before, your crumble looks relish x

Snowy said...

That looks good Suelle, and it's our favourite crumble; like you, I freeze excess fruit to enjoy later. Blackcurrants freeze well too and that's another of our favourites, but I agree with you about rhubarb not freezing well.