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.