22 June 2013

Gooseberry curd

I planted my gooseberry bush in 2008 and this is the first year I've successfully picked a good amount of fruit. In 2009 the bush suffered a lawn-mower-related accident (regular readers may notice a trend here) which reduced it to a single branch, but since then it has been growing well and really I have no excuses for not harvesting a crop in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Except that I think my problem has been the size of the fruit. I found out today that North American gooseberries are smaller than European ones. I think in previous years I've been waiting for them to get as big  as my mental picture of an ideal gooseberry and of course they never have.

Well, no more! I harvested over two pounds of them today:

I read a Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall recipe for gooseberry curd in The Guardian the other day (yes, still in the habit of reading British newspapers) and thought it sounded lovely. Once you start looking around the web for recipes, you soon find that there is very little agreement on the quantities of ingredients for gooseberry curd. I'm hoping that means it doesn't matter too much.

I didn't bother to top-and-tail the fruit (mainly because it would have taken me all day). I just added about half a cup of water to them and stewed them down gently for about 10 minutes until they were soft and disintegrating. Then I dug out my old food mill. I bought this when Child1 was starting solid foods and I don't think I've used it since. I found it didn't actually work that well for making baby food, but it is perfect for taking the stalks off gooseberries. I knew there was a reason I'd kept it...

This process left me with 900ml of purée. I froze half of it to use in something else (HFW also has a recipe for gooseberry ice-cream which sounds tempting) and got to work with the remaining 450ml. Plumping for an average of all the different quantities I'd found online, I added 90g unsalted butter and 330g sugar to the purée in the top half of a double boiler. While the butter melted, I whisked up three eggs and strained them into a jug. Then I mixed the eggs into the gooseberry mixture and patiently stirrred it for 15 minutes or so, until the mixture was good and thick. It got to 74°C according to my sugar thermometer (custards are safely cooked once they get to 71°C or 160°F (I only found this out today!)).

Then I strained the mixture through a fine sieve to remove any lingering pieces of gooseberry flower and transferred it into two sterilised jars. This quantity (annoyingly) made just a little less than two pounds of  curd. I'm pleased with the colour and hope it will taste as good as it smells!

1 comment:

Lisa from Iroquois said...

Looks lovely. Hopefully tastes good too. I also have a gooseberry but there days I wait til the berries are red. Imagine my shock when I discovered that the dark berries are wonderfully sweet. As for the varying amounts of sugar, I expect it's like rhubarb. Some plants are sweeter than others and you just have to know your specific bush.