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Orchard Training Cookery Club - Gooseberries and Icecreams

With the warm weather now upon us the fruit garden is starting to yield up its harvest, the first pickings are in and as you can see the currents, cherries and strawberries were only just starting ripe when this photograph was taken. Don't be fooled, what was picked over the following days - were kgs of fruit. A lot of garden visits, over the last two weeks, have happened and now the eating cherries and the strawberries have been fully tasted and appreciated. Not one of them made it to the kitchen. I can't imagine why!

Where as the gooseberries had all ripened in one go. In order to eat the strawberries and cherries you had to lend a hand picking the gooseberries. Last year one of our keen homeschool gardeners perfected the technique of gooseberry pickings. It is a two learner job - he explains - thick heavy gloves are warn by the holder upper and the smaller nimble hands go underhand and down the branch nibbling the gooseberries off. It works and soon all the bushes were stripped of their bounty.

The current bushes were covered with ants, and this was a bigger problem than the gooseberries. We ended up giving the bushes a spray with the hose pipe and picking quickly - nobody liked the ants crawling over them.

The cookery club soon got to grips with those gooseberries. We have been learning to make gooseberry ice creams and puddings with them. We started with a sorbet, this is a water based - ice cream. We then went on to make a cream base, 2 custard based and a mallow based ice cream. We finished off making a panna cotta desert.

To serve with the Gooseberry Mallow ice cream, we made macaroons, which was a bit tricky as the desiccated coconut wanted to stick to the fingers more than make a macaroon, which is why we had so few - or so I was told!

We also whipped up a sheet ginger cake, which we cut with heart shaped cookie cutters to go with the cream based gooseberry ice cream. These recipes were picked by the learners from a book by Hilary Waleden called 'Ice Cream', which I have been using successfully, since it was published back in 1985. Great book, fabulous results with the ice cream and superb serving suggestions. The panna cotta dessert was a recipe found on the BBC Good Food website. The outright winner was the ginger cake combo with the rich homemade custard. Followed by the cream based cream and the macaroons (I think the macaroons swung that vote). There was a tie between the sorbet and the low fat custard based icecream. The parents who came to pick up thought the pannacotta was best.

By the time we had made all of these and tasted each one each and everyone, we were all gooseberry ice creamed out. I was left with the last load of washing up in the dishwasher (I have to say you are really great at tiding up after yourselves and it is greatly appreciated!), and the last few kgs of gooseberries. This I have turned into jam.

There is enough to share, later in the year, when we do a taste test on our homemade jams. In the mean time, we better get down to the pick-your-own to get some strawberries, otherwise we won't have a strawberry jam to taste test!


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