Monday, 27 June 2011

Gooseberry thrills

I love gooseberries. The smell of them is heavenly, isn't it? Delicate flowers and fruit and wet summer earth.

Picking them from the bush is such fun, too. Squatting down carefully beside them, lifting their leaves to peer underneath, finding those dangling fruits, moving the branch to uncover them, to find if they are too little and green to pick, or full and round and perfectly ripe, expect a moment of sharp exquisite prickling on the backs of your fingers; but those needle points can barely defend that perfect fruit from my delighted hand.

Lightly stewed with crystal sugar, those firm fruits become such a superb soft textured combination of sweet and tart, I know they'll promise thrilling tingles to my taste.

I remember all the years of picking gooseberries. And I can think happily of all the babies I'm very glad not to have found under the gooseberry bushes.

In memory of gooseberry days, here is my recipe for gooseberryade.

Wash, top and tail one pound of good ripe gooseberries, add strips of lemon rind, and pour over water that is just boiled. Press gently but not to tear or pulp the gooseberries. Now find other distractions to occupy your hour.

When the liquid is cool, strain, add sugar to taste and call the children to celebrate their summers to come.