Sunday, 14 July 2013

A thorny issue

The gooseberry bushes in my garden have given quite a good crop this year, so I'm looking forward to cooking a few gooseberry recipes.

The simplest thing to start with is just to poach them in a light sugar syrup, which will also help preserve them. To make the syrup, put 100g sugar and 200g water in a pan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved, then  simmer for 3-4 minutes. Meanwhile, top, tail and rinse the gooseberries. When the syrup is ready, add the gooseberries, reduce the heat, and cook gently for a few minutes. The idea is to cook them until they are soft but still keep their shape. Allow to cool, then store in the refrigerator - they should be fine for a week or two.

If you want to preserve them for longer, you can pack the topped-and-tailed gooseberries into a sterilized Kilner jar, cover completely with the sugar syrup (leaving 1/2cm or so at the top of the jar to prevent spillage during cooking) and cook in the pressure cooker. Put the lid on the jar before cooking, tighten, then unscrew 1/4 turn to allow for expansion. Place the jar on a trivet in the pressure cooker, add 3/4 litre boiling water, put on the lid and bring slowly to low pressure (5lb). Cook for 1 minute then remove from the heat and let the pressure drop naturally. When cool enough to handle, tighten the lid. Check the seal after 24 hours. They will keep unrefrigerated for a year.

I like to serve them with a buttermilk panna cotta.
Buttermilk Panna Cotta
300ml double cream
300ml buttermilk
50g sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
3 leaves gelatine (see note below)

Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for 10 minutes. Meanwhile warm the cream to just below boiling point. Stir in the sugar and vanilla. Squeeze out the gelatine leaves and add to the cream, stirring until dissolved. Stir in the cold buttermilk, check for sweetness (you might want to add more sugar), then pour into moulds and chill until set (about 2 hours). Note that gelatine sheets come in different sizes and may have different setting properties. The packet I used said that 12 sheets would set 1 litre of fruit jelly, but I used proportionately less to set 600ml of buttermilk and cream.

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