Making the most of the raspberry crop

August weather is always a bit changeable and as soon as the combine rolls into the field, you can be sure that rainclouds will follow. As ever, this year there has been much dashing about while the sun shines interspersed with hopeful weather forecast consultation while the rain pours down outside.

On the plus side, it’s been possible to pick raspberries in the sunshine and retreat inside to deal with them when it rains. The autumn fruiting raspberries are in full production and no doubt their good size is partly due to the rain. When we start to tire of eating raspberries for breakfast, lunch and supper I have to cast around for ways of prolonging the season because a couple of weeks after the crop has finished, they suddenly become desirable again.

First this year was a batch of raspberry ripple ice-cream. I’ve made gallons of ice-cream since I discovered how easy it is to make it with a carton of cream and a tin of sweetened condensed milk. It’s another of those things that I wish I’d known about years ago. If you’ve never tried the condensed milk recipe, try a batch of Raspberry Ripple ice-cream.

Making raspberry vinegarNext to make was a new batch of Raspberry Vinegar as I’m down to the dregs of my last bottle from 2018. Some modern recipes for Raspberry Vinegar don’t add sugar and some older ones use an awful lot. My recipe is halfway between the two, so you may want to adjust it either way. I suppose it depends how you plan to use it.

Next on the list are a couple of  Raspberry Loaf cakes. One for the printmaking class that’s running this week in The Barley Barn and another for the freezer. Just as soon as the rain stops so that I can pick more raspberries.  

No-Churn Ice cream raspberry ripple

Raspberry Ripple Ice-Cream

A simple to make fresh tasting ice-cream

Ingredients

• 200 g Fresh Raspberries
• 600 ml Double Cream
• 397 g Tin Sweetened, Condensed Milk
• 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Directions

  1. Gently heat the raspberries with a splash of water in a small saucepan until they burst and the juice starts to run. Don’t boil or cook the raspberries.
  2. Push the raspberries through a sieve, which will give you a ruby coloured puree.
  3. Whip the cream until it’s floppy and then add the condensed milk and vanilla extract, continuing to whip until it’s incorporated.
  4. Pour in the raspberry puree and swirl through with a knife to give a ripple effect.
  5. Scrape into a plastic container, cover and freeze overnight until hard.

Move the ice-cream from the freezer to the fridge 30 minutes before serving to make it easier to scoop out.



Raspberry Vinegar | Sore Throat Soother

Last week, NICE (National Institute for Health and Care) and EPH (Excellence and Public Health England) advised us to use honey to reduce the symptoms of a cough instead of rushing to the doctor to ask for antibiotics. How gratifying to discover that some old wives tales are true and that we really have been doing ourselves good when we drank a mug of hot water into which we’d stirred a spoonful of honey and a good squeeze of lemon juice.

Here’s another piece of SOWTAT (Some Old Wives Tales Are True) advice: Raspberry Vinegar eases a sore throat. Just add a dash of hot water to a spoonful or two of Raspberry Vinegar and sip it slowly. There may be some scientific evidence to support this or it may be that the pain of your throat is less rasping than the the eye watering sensation of drinking almost neat vinegar. Whichever, it works for me and plenty of others.

Beth has picked all the raspberries she needs for her raspberry gin, so there’s a bit of a family free-for-all to pick the remaining fruit, which is so abundant that the canes growing outside the constraining wires are gracefully swooping and bowing to the ground under the burden of their fruit. Thankfully, most of the canes have grown or been gently coaxed into the correct growing space and picking is very easy, so long as we avoid the wasps and the patch where a large stinging nettle has sprung up.  As it can only be a matter of time before  SOWTAT advice regarding Raspberry Vinegar is issued by the powers that be, I’m getting ready for winter coughs and colds by making a bottle or two.

Should you wish to prepare yourself for the winter months, here’s the recipe to make your own Raspberry Vinegar.

Don’t confine your vinegar to medicating a sore throat. Use it in salad dressings and marinades; deglaze a roasting pan with a spoonful of vinegar or add it to stews that need a bit of bite. Some people drizzle it over ice cream or Yorkshire pudding. I also read on a label that it can be diluted with sparkling water to make a “deliciously refreshing” drink.

If you have raspberries to spare, make this Raspberry Loaf Cake. You could it eat it as an accompaniment to a glass of diluted Raspberry Vinegar.

make your own Raspberry vinegar

raspberries

Desire, Fulfilment and Surfeit

When you grow and eat your own fruit and vegetables, the natural progression through nurture, harvest and glut in the garden is matched by desire, fulfilment and surfeit in the kitchen.

raspberries ripening

Take our autumn-fruiting raspberries. The canes are cut back to ground level in winter and then we watch as they grow tall and leafy though spring and summer. White flowers appear and the tiny fruits swell and slowly change colour until, at last, in the heat of a summer day we spot a flash of crimson amongst the green foliage and triumphantly pick the first raspberry of the season.

For the first few days, we barely pick enough to fill a small dish but soon there’s raspberries galore. We eat them every day for pudding, sprinkle them on our breakfast and drop them into cocktails. Then one day I hear a sigh around the table as I plonk down another bowl of raspberries, so I scour my recipes for different ways to use them. Raspberries are added to cakes with gay abandon and we eat Lemon Surprise Pudding (the surprise being it’s Raspberry Pudding not Lemon). Visitors are pressed to take a container filled with raspberries home with them.

With raspberries still ripening thick and fast outside, it’s time to start preserving. A few raspberries are frozen, a couple of bottles of Raspberry Cordial are stored away and I make raspberry jam, though not in vast quantities as we barely eat a jar of jam a month.

raspberry vinegar

Last of all, I make a few bottles of Raspberry Vinegar. The original recipe I followed was sweet, perhaps because they suggested serving it over ice cream or diluting it with lemonade or soda water. But, guess what. I never drizzle it over vanilla ice cream and I don’t enjoy it diluted with lemonade, so over the years, I’ve reduced the sugar.

Raspberry Vinegar is supremely easy to make. Roughly crush about 500g of raspberries in a glass jar (I use my spurtle to crush), tip in 500ml of white wine vinegar, give it a stir and leave for two or three days. Sieve out the raspberry grunge and put the bright red vinegar into a saucepan with 100g of granulated sugar. Bring to the boil, simmer for ten minutes, skim off any scum and leave to cool a little. Pour into sterilised bottles and store somewhere cool and dark.

bacon salad recipe

Raspberry Vinegar seems such a throwback to the 1980s that I often feel the need to partner it with a suitably retro recipe like bacon salad. Otherwise, use it for dressings and marinades or to add a bit of oomph to casseroles. Dilute it with a little hot water to ease a sore throat; it’s eye watering but at least you momentarily forget how sore your throat was before. Drizzle over ice cream, if that’s your thing.

But, I digress. When we cannot face another bowl of raspberries and I’ve preserved all that I need, I pick the remaining raspberries in the garden and hand them over to Beth so that she can make them into Raspberry Gin, which is the very best way of preserving raspberries.

As the raspberries near the end of fruiting, do I miss them? No, of course not. I’ve been watching the greengages ripen and for the past few days, every time I’ve walked past the tree I’ve snatched a handful of those yellow green orbs of ambrosial deliciousness. Surely I could never tire of such a treat …

 

 


the garden in August

plums

This is the time of year when the garden is at its most productive. There’s plenty to harvest, successional sowing means the next flush is coming up behind and plants for winter are established and full of promise.

ladder in orchard

The cherry plums have been eaten, the Czar plums are just starting to ripen and every day I squeeze the greengages to see if they’re ready. The autumn fruiting raspberries are so prolific at the moment that Beth is picking them for her Raspberry Gin and we still have enough to eat at breakfast layered with oats and yoghurt and to make a fresh batch of raspberry vinegar.

There’s a ready supply of peas, beans, carrots, salad leaves and beetroot, though the carrot germination wasn’t good this year.  We have a steady trickle of tomatoes, though I suspect that we will reach glut proportions in a week or two.

leeks in garden August

Looking ahead, the leeks have been transplanted into their winter beds and are growing well.

leek dibber with spade and fork

On the left of the photo is the dibber to make the holes for the leeks. Constructed from scaffold pipe, it makes a monotonous job easier and saves a good deal of bending over.

guinea fowl in the garden

I’d hoped to have Brussels Sprouts again this winter. There’s always a dispute about whether to plant them or not; I like them because it’s handy to have a vegetable that’s easy to pick in the middle of winter but Bill thinks they take up too much room and look a mess. I got my way this year and the plants were growing well until the guinea fowl decided that the sprout bed was the best place on the entire farm to take a dust bath. They uprooted some of the plants and the remaining ones look pretty sickly. I noticed that Bill shouted at the guineas when they were eyeing up the carrot bed for their dust bath but has remained very quiet since they discovered the sprouts.

yellow courgettes

The courgettes are running amok and I have no idea why we have grown five plants when two would have been more than enough. I suppose the answer is that last year only one seed germinated and this year all of them did. The yellow courgettes are producing like there’s no tomorrow and are pressed on anyone who happens to pass by, though the green ones have hardly started yet.

pickled spiced courgette

This week I made pickled courgette, which we will (possibly) eat with cold meats in the autumn. Of course, it may languish on the pantry shelf for months, gradually disappearing behind the more attractive Spiced Crab Apples or chutneys. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, I have a batch of courgette cakes in the oven, which goes to show how desperate I am to use them up and am trying to convince Beth that Courgette Gin would be a winner.

 

You may also be interested in:

Slamseys Raspberry Gin

Raspberry Vinegar Recipe

How to deal with a glut of tomatoes