Welcome back to Miss Windsor’s Delectables! Once again, it’s a pleasure to receive your company – How spiffing!
I say, with just a pinch of time remaining before gooseberry season is well and truly over, I’ve managed to rustle up a scrumptious steamed suet pud – Miss Windsor’s Gooseberry & Redcurrant Suet Pudding. I created this with the simplest of ingredients: suet pastry, green gooseberries, redcurrants, and the ultimate sweet touch of a generous helping of sugar, which I must highlight is most needed due to the exceedingly tart nature of these fruits.
I based my culinary masterpiece on a Mrs Beeton recipe that was originally published in the 1861 first edition of Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management. Evidently my dears, I recreated a frightfully Victorian slice of British, or some may prefer to say English, food history!
Darlings, for the last couple of days I’ve been running around like a “blue-arsed fly”, so my mother often trumpets! Time has flittered away at such a tremendous speed this year, that it had completely slipped my mind that the end of gooseberry season is nigh!
You see, gooseberry season is so blinking short – late June into July, then if you’re lucky include a tad bit of August – that within a blink of an eye there would certainly be no gooseberries left to pick, just a mass of spindly stalks leftover instead. I say, do not despair my dears, Miss Windsor recommends as an alternative to fresh gooseberries to use frozen or the tinned sort. Also, in comparison, the redcurrant season is much longer – July to September, which boasts a whole two months of harvest.
So, as you can imagine it was all panic stations in the Miss Windsor household. Thankfully, my local Waitrose supermarket stocks an array of fruits from yesteryear, so Miss Windsor was able to purchase a few punnets of the green common type of gooseberries. Oh, and one sourced some rather resplendent redcurrants from one’s local greengrocer, which I must say added a splash of vibrancy to what could’ve turned out to be a rather unadorned and washed-out looking pudding.
Darlings, and I must mention that it saddened me to read that our glorious gooseberry, an age-old fruit native to Europe, North-western Africa, and southwestern Asia, is at dire risk of completely disappearing from our pick of summer fruits, although some folks would argue that the gooseberry is actually making a comeback! Whether it is or not, dietary wise it’s bursting at the seams with vitamins A, C, and D.
A few more titbits about our good ol’ fashioned gooseberry: during the 17th century there were over 2000 varieties grown by farmers in the United Kingdom alone, thus it’s one of the first fruits ever cultivated for commercial purposes that reached its height of fame during the early 1900s. You could whip up just about anything with this versatile fruit – gooseberry crumble, gooseberry cobbler, gooseberry pudding, gooseberry tart, gooseberry sauce, gooseberry jam, gooseberry fool, gooseberry chutney, and so on………
The hard truth is my dears, gooseberries are just not as desirable for consumption in today’s modern world. It appears that strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries have certainly superseded the age-old gooseberry due to their availability all year round, and the fact that you’re not required to do anything more with them except pop in your mouth and chomp!
Also, it appears that the younger generation hasn't got the foggiest idea what the heck a gooseberry actually is, or what to do with it if they just so happen to stumble upon one!
Fortunately, as a young lass, I was privy to all thing’s gooseberry. You see, every year Grandmother Josie and I would frequent the local “pick your own” fruit fields in Tickenham, North Somersetshire, and together we’d strip the bushes bare of gooseberries and then squash as many as we could into my grandmother’s rather tired yet well-loved woven shopping basket.
It also brings me great pleasure to tell you, that Grandmother Josie was immensely fond of baking, and after a hard days graft at the pick your own fruit fields, she would spend the next day baking gooseberry pies in her Somersetshire galley kitchen, most of which she’d store in her 1970’s chest freezer.
And I affectionately recall, following a nourishing and hearty Sunday roast, one of Grandmother Josie’s fruity pies would always be served for the sweet course, and enjoyed from my great-great aunt Betty’s luxurious yellow, primrose encrusted vintage dessert bowls - those were the days!
Enjoy with oodles of gusto and a splash of cream!
ALL PHOTOGRAPHY BY MISS WINDSOR
MISS WINDSOR'S RECIPE:
Preparation time: 1 hour (including 30 minutes resting time for the suet pastry)
Cooking time: 1.5 hours
Serves: 4 delightful guests
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