An unassuming small gooseberry bush about a meter across was already established in our allotment. This has been a particularly good year for most fruit, supposedly due to the very long and cold winter and late spring and summer, who would have thought! The gooseberry bush was a prime example with all the branches just laden to the full. How can a such a small gooseberry shrub give so many fruit? Gooseberry variety here is unlike the gooseberries we have in India. Oval fruit with light green skin with tinges of red. No large single stone in the centre. Instead, about 4 or 5 tiny seeds, which you don’t even have to pick out while eating, and the skin has a lot of fine hairs.
Takes hours to harvest, avoiding the sharp thorns and picking the small fruit one by one. We took turns and did it a quarter of the bush at one time. Even with the tiered picking, we wasted a lot this year, fruit quickly rotting in the unusual heat while awaiting delivery to friends and neighbours. We have effectively used about half the total produce, I estimate.
Staring at the pile of gooseberries, I realised I have never eaten gooseberry jam. Gooseberry ice-cream, at the pick your own farm near Macclesfield, was gorgeous. So it was time to crack ice-cream! My previous feeble attempts at ice-cream making were mostly flavoured ice crystals! But now I had a secret weapon, an ice-cream churner attachment for the Kenwood mixer and the bowl was already in the freezer.
A lot of reading went into the making of ice-cream, sorbet and granitas to learn what works and what doesn’t and it paid off producing silky smooth ice creams of intense flavour from the word go.
However you like the ice-cream, the juice of the fruit must be extracted. Whether it is pure juice or includes the fruit pulp and even bits of fruit depends the fruit and how you like your ice-cream. So adding a bit of sugar and water to the washed and cleaned gooseberries (learnt that bit from making jam), cooked the berries over a medium flame, stirring frequently till the fruit is soft and mashes easily. Just drip sieving to get a clearish juice gave some juice but with a little agitation and pressure, the fruit pulp filtered through and that tasted even better.
Deciding that a custard based ice-cream was going to be the best and smoothest for the tartness of the gooseberry, a custard base with our very own garden reared chicken’s eggs and shop bought milk (at the rate this family consumes milk, i wonder if rearing a cow might be more economical) and cream. Not being sure of vanilla and how it would interact with the gooseberry, I omitted it. Mixing the custard with the gooseberry extract tasted tart and sweet, both will be muted on freezing, so it should be okay.
The ice-cream custard mixture was poured into the ice-cream churning bowl and in about 30 mins, what appeared to be the most delicious looking fluffy ice-cream emerged. This was transferred to a box and went into the freezer for 2 – 4 hours till frozen well.
Glorious! The first batch is now finished. Thank goodness I had the sense to make the gooseberry puree from the rest of the gooseberries and freeze in separate portions ready for the next batch.
500 gm gooseberries
2 egg yolks
125 gm caster sugar
250 ml double cream
125 ml whole milk
1. To make the purée, put the gooseberries (no need to top and tail) and half the sugar in a pan with 2 – 4 tbsp water. Heat gently, stirring, then bring to a simmer and cook until the fruit starts to burst. Tip everything into a food processor and whizz until puréed (we just mashed it potato masher). Push through a sieve to get rid of the pips and skin. Cool.
2. To make the custard, put the egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl and whisk until pale and fluffy.
3. Heat the milk and half of the cream to just below boiling then pour onto the whisked eggs, in a thin stream, whisking all the time, until completely mixed.
4. Clean out the milk pan then pour the custard back in. Heat gently, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon, until the custard thickens and can coat the back of the spoon. Mix the gooseberry puree. Cool and chill in refrigerator.
5. When ready to churn the ice-cream. whip the rest of the cream and gently fold into the custard. This step is important to get fluffy ice-cream.
6. Churn in ice-cream maker till done, transfer to a freezer proof airtight container and freeze till frozen solid, about 4 hours.
Note: If you want it less rich, just reduce the cream and increase the milk. Just keep the whole volume the same.