Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Jewels, beads and crystal cups

No sign of rain yet in our corner of south-west Suffolk, our garden is crisp and parched – the shallow Dragonfly Pond has completely dried up and I admit to neglecting most of my vegetable garden. But the big bonus this year has been the fruit crops . . . after a superb crop of Invicta Gooseberries which I made into jam, this weekend we harvested the Red Currants. There was one elderly, un-named Red Currant bush in the garden when we moved here, I gave it a good pruning and struck new plants from all the twigs (easy, I just stuffed them into the ground) – we now have a row of lovely young Red Currant bushes along the red-brick garden wall. We protected the currants from the hungry birds with nets and so our harvest this year was a good one.

So what did I do with two big bowls full of Red Currants? Make Red Currant jelly of course! Cold dark winter days wouldn't be the same without Red Currant jelly to accompany a hearty lamb casserole; and what's more satisfying than a beautiful row of glowing ruby red jars!

We used to have a dessert Gooseberry bush, Whinham's Industry – a celebrated variety from Morpeth in Nothumberland. Sadly, it turned up it toes one winter and is no more. I replaced it, in another location in the garden, with two fruit bushes: a modern red dessert Gooseberry Hinnomaki Red and a White Currant White Versailles. The bushes are still small and young, but we've been able to sample a small harvest of the delicious fruits.

This morning I picked this bowl of shiny creamy-golden currants . . .

and glorious plump red and lime green gooseberries . . .

. . . what could I do with these precious beads? Should I take them to the skilled Mrs P for her to make into a beautiful necklace, perhaps? But that would mean missing out on the flavours – all those sharp, sweet-sour, musky, complex, taste-bud teasing flavours that appear in the descriptions on the back of bottles of Sauvignon Blanc (the label never says that the wine tastes of grapes).

I remembered that Fiona, The Cottage Smallholder, had recipes for fruit jelly on her blog – yes indeed! There was the perfect recipe for my classy fruits, Dessert Gooseberry and White Currant Jellies. I had all the ingredients, I just needed some suitable glasses to serve them in, Cliff suggested the whisky tumblers . . . perfect!

It was while I was happily spooning fruit and pouring the liquid, that Cliff explained he had bought the tumblers many years ago 'when he had money – before he had a wife'. "They cost you how much", I nearly dropped the jug of gooseberry juice!

Tonight we'll savour bejewelled jellies in crystal cups.


  1. you can still get Whinham's Industry, from Gardening Express on the web, I think. I know Morpeth very well - home of the great Smail's hardware shop. One of my earliest memories is going for a hot dog by the river and feeding the fluffy bread-bun to the ducks!

  2. Redcurrant is such a gem of a fruit isn't it? The berries look like they are lit up!

  3. those jars of redcurrent jelly look delicious... again, very envious of your plot... next year...

  4. I helped my friend pick some redcurrants on her allotment last week they would make stunning jewels,so pretty. I have a teeny whitecurrant bush on my allotment and I'm on the lookout for gooseberries next!! Enjoy your jellies, but don't drop the glasses :)
    twiggy x

  5. wonder if those jars of jam will be out near the road .. they look yummy

  6. Celia, what a rich post this is. Not just about harvesting gleaming berries.

    Wishing that I had a garden, and could look forward to being reminded of that garden after the frost next fall with the glow of each jam jar.

    I will leave the topic of the use of those beautiful glasses to you.


  7. Absolutely amazing! Good job you didn't drop that gooseberry juice. What a harvest. Still no rain here either.

  8. Oh! Exquisite! That looks so tasty too.

    Thankyou again for the COS flag Celia. I loved this weekend. It was such fun.

  9. I envy your jars of jelly!
    Once I get back out to the country, I'm starting straight in on prepping my departed grandfather's mini-farm for jelly-making fruits! Don't suppose you'd be interested in an occasional swap-across-the-pond? :)

  10. I wish that our heat wave was good to the fruit- but my blueberries have dropped from the bush and the raspberries are sparse. Maybe I should plant gooseberries! Not a plant much known here in the states.

  11. That sounds like a royal feast!

  12. Looks great, limited for space here it's veg vs fruit, now I'm thinking more fruit!

  13. Yum.

    And thanks for the redcurrant tip - as I harvested the last of our little crop from our only bush I was thinking about putting in more, but I'd far rather propagate my own especially if it's easy!

    I thought about you this morning as I harvested my gooseberries. Delicious - gooseberry tart for tea I think!

    Oh, and whitecurrants - how beautiful.

  14. Hi Wendy - that's good to know, Whinham's Industry is a delicious gooseberry.

    Hi Veg Heaven - they're an amazing colour!

    Hi Bellaukitchen - Redcurrants are easy to grow, and propagate.

    Hi Twiggyp-s - the glasses are safely back in the cupboard ;-)

    Hi Smarcoux - sorry, they won't be on the stall by my gate (unless we have surplus supplies next spring).

    Hi Frances - luckily we've been at home at the peak of the fruit harvest this year. I'm looking forward to having a well stocked larder this winter.

    Hi Matron - the longed for rain arrived at last - hope you got some too.

    Hi Silverpebble - so pleased you enjoyed having visitors to you studio, I bet they loved everything!

    Hi Strange Angel - hope you find some fruits.

    Hi Terry - it's difficult to pinpoint exactly what conditions different fruits really like.

    Hi Gina - they were scrummy!

    Hi Damo - fruit bushes are a good investment.

    Hi Dottycookie - hope you enjoyed that gooseberry tart!



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