If, like me, you love winter, 2010 has been a vintage year in this soggy corner of Victoria. At Icy Creek, however, even I’ve been starting to hanker for some warmer weather. And a week into October we finally got some – that is, before an Antarctic blast blustered up from the valley below us last weekend.
Spring has been slower to settle in than in previous years, but the jostaberry bushes are finally in bloom. As the plants themselves are still growing (quite vigourously too in the last year) and still very unusual in Australia (I’ve never seen the fruit on sale in any market) this is, by default a rare sight, even if not a particularly spectacular one.
Meanwhile, the blackcurrant flowers (below) are, to use an inappropriate yet strangely apt metaphor, are proving to be one of nature’s red herrings. Weirder still when you factor in that these are one of the jostaberry’s parents. The other is the gooseberry.
Posted in Berries & Currants, black currants, Blackcurrant, Blackcurrants, Edible Gardening, Jostaberries, Jostaberry
Tagged black currant, Blackcurrant, Blackcurrants, Gooseberry, Jostaberries, Jostaberry
The jostaberry ice-cream fan club
With jostaberries at the their peak, we finally got to do some experiments in the kitchen with them last night and the icecream was voted a big success. While the berries themselves are black when ripe, the mix turns a psychedelic purple once the fruit is blended.
2 cups of jostaberries.
1 1/2 cups of cream
3/4 of a cup of sugar (go up to a cup if you like your icecream really sweet).
Combine jostaberries and sugar and heat until the sugar is dissolved and simmer for no more than five minutes. Blend the jostaberries but do not put them through a sieve. Cool, and then churn with the cream in an icecream churn.
We also made a sorbet out of this bowl of redcurrants and gooseberries.
These redcurrants and gooseberries share a common destiny
One cup gooseberry and/or redurrants
1/2 to 2/3 cup of sugar
Simmer to dissolve sugar and continue until gooseberries are just tender (no more than five minutes). Blend, and pass through a sieve. Churn and eat immediately, as this one won’t keep all that well.
Posted in Berries & Currants, Gooseberry, Hobby Farming, Icy Creek, Jostaberries, Jostaberry, Redcurrant, Redcurrants
Tagged Gooseberry, Icecream, Icy Creek, Jostaberries, Jostaberry, Recipe, Redcurrants, Sorbet
How may gooseberries can you spot?
If there’s one thing I love about having my own patch, it’s being able to revel in my unfashionable tastes. Chestnuts, quinces, blackcurrants, salsify, cider apples and turnips all have their place at Precipice. (Well, maybe not turnips). And yes, I especially enjoy watching my friends marvel at what they assume is the novelty of what are really just old fashioned fodder.
Take gooseberries. Almost unknown by anyone under 50 in Australia, these exquisite if often tart fruits have probably lapsed into oblivion because they require “handling” before serving. But do they? The variety we grow, known as “Captivator”, actually get pretty sweet if left on the bush until they turn red, yet I’ve never seen “red” gooseberries anywhere in markets. Maybe they’re just picked before they ripen, which might be fine if you’re planning to cook them, but this doesn’t do much to promote their qualities as fresh fruit. To my taste, if left to ripen they are sweeter than blackcurrants, and just as sweet as ripe jostaberries, a relatively modern arrival engineered by crossing gooseberries with blackcurrants.
Harvesting presents challenges though. There’s no thorns on these Captivators, but I find it almost impossible to see the fruit before it fully ripens. The bush in the picture above, for instance, is jam-packed (if you’ll forgive the pun) with large berries, but only one is cleary visible, and it was promptly taken care of as soon as this photo was taken. Indeed I’d pretty much written off this year’s crop as disappointing until I did a close inspection this arvo.
I’ve read all about how growing gooseberries became a serious competitive sport in northern England (the bigger the better, of course) and a Scottish colleague of mine was a shivering wreck of homesickness after sampling a modest offering from a previous summer crop. Now I realise that I really have been missing out on their enigmatic charms. If you can grow you’re own, understanding their potential is clearly all about timing, and being able to find them before the birds get them. If they can spot them. As for the title of this post, if it doesn’t make sense, then check out this recipe.