Harvest time is in full swing on the Ruthven homestead. We have moved on from Lavender to soft fruit. The strawberries were lovely but we (and Squirrel Nutkin) simply scoffed them all. Our gooseberries were somewhat underwhelming – only enough for 6 fools (I shan’t name them – it would be unkind). Luckily, Anne next door supplied some from her ENORMOUS crop so we (and Tom but not Sue – further below) have had gooseberry cheesecake too. The raspberries came in at fair to middling. I think we will need to supplement them with the secret wild stash I have my eye on if adequate jam and coulis reserves are to be laid in. The blackcurrant bushes put out a ton of new growth this year (which I suspect means they were pruned all wrong) but gave a decent crop if you were prepared to delve into the jungle of foliage (as I was). However, the berries themselves were huge. They were so impressive I couldn’t bear just to reduce them to jam and have experimentally bottled some. These will likely be consumed on our friend David’s next visit as he is a keen fan of the BC. Consumer feedback will be posted. We also had a pretty decent white currant crop. These have been dangling in the jeelly bag overnight and the juice is destined for jelly and perhaps, if there is enough, Currant Shrub (which I have only just discovered in my handy preserving manual.)
I have also not been averse to a bit of foraging. On Saturday I took a swing to Tom and Sue’s. I had various things to drop off, including two slices of the aforementioned gooseberry cheesecake. I had barely made it to the top of the hill when Tom swung past in his jeep, and in the Borders way, performed a “Uey” to stop for a chat. On hearing of the cheesecake, Tom declared that he would take delivery now and kindly offered Sue’s slice to his co-pilot (with whom he was building a patio for Lauren, the next but one neighbour’s dog walker). I ambled on. After a cup of tea with Sue (who was not one bit surprised about the flagrant cheesecake re-gifting), a trip around Tom’s ever expanding Tractor Museum and a visit to Sue’s chickens, I set off home.
The rape is turning golden now and the willow herb and meadowsweet is flowering all through the drainage ditches. I decided to pick some meadowsweet and try my hand at cordial. Lyra was unavailable for this particular trip, having a prior engagement, so I had to talk to myself as I picked. This was fine until I was overtaken by Simon who was out for a run. Ah well…. I googled various recipes for meadowsweet cordial then disregarded them all and made one up. Quite an interesting taste, there’s a honey overlay but a touch of tannin as well. I used this to bottle the blackcurrants and might use the rest for pears. Thus far my attempts at cocktail use have yet to deliver a winner.