Dealing with a fruity problem

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When you have a glut of summer fruit, here’s one way of dealing with it.

Phew, I finally have five minutes to sit down and write a blog.

The past couple of weeks have been completely frantic, what with loads of work coming in (a good thing), my bronchitis continuing to give me jip (a bad thing…), helping depressed friends (a bad thing), my machine threatening to die every five minutes (a bad thing) and trying to get all my soft fruit processed (a good thing).

It is always the same every year – a glut of fruit so immense that you get completely fed up with it. Berries for breakfast lunch and dinner until you’re sick to your stomach, but also the pleasure of being down in the grass in the evening sun, furtling around for branches that have got hidden (I am not what you’d call a tidy gardener) and pulling off the warm, ripe fruit. 

This year, for anyone who’s interested, I’ve hit on a new method for processing much of my soft fruit – the slow cooker – and it gives you two bangs for your buck. You just put the fruit in the slow cooker, top up with water (not a huge amount, just enough so’s you can see it) and leave it for a couple of hours or even overnight. In the morning, drain off the juice and bottle it, and freeze the fruit pulp for use later in crumbles, etc. You can also freeze the juice and later process it into syrup or jelly.

Some of the juices thus created have been fab – whitecurrant, redcurrant, mixed fruit walk (a bit of everything), and now blackberry, as these little darlings are coming in. Next will be the plums, and then the grapes on our vine, which are too sour to eat. If you find the resulting juice is a bit tart, just add sugar to taste (best to add it while it’s still hot). I have frozen most of our juice and am just unfreezing one bottle at a time, mostly for use in long drinks (I am off the sauce, on account of the bronchitis).

Owing to my usual habit of taking the tickets off things and then losing them, I don’t actually know what’s growing in the fruit walk, which I put in five years ago. In bush fruit, there seem to be two types of whitecurrants, a jostaberry, three types of raspberry (which all failed dismally this year) and green, red and purple gooseberries. One gooseberry bush is about six feet high, viciously spiny and gives very small dark purple berries like miniature damsons – the juice tastes very like grape and is my husband’s favourite. 

Right, back to the garden for more blackberries. 


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