It's hard to believe we've reached the longest day of the year as I sit here looking out at thick grey cloud and a steady drizzle. On the positive side, there's no need to water the crops. Soon we growers are going to have gooseberries, strawberries, raspberries and currants in abundance. Time for a larder clear out to use up all the bottled fruits and jams from last year to make way for the new. Hopefully you haven't still got fruit squirrelled away in the freezer - an admission of one forgotten pot of raspberries just unearthed here, and not for the first time.
My solution at times like these is to blitz them frozen with a little honey to make a simple sorbet or turn to page 1088 of Nigel Slater's Tender II - 'A dish of warm, heady berries'. Nigel's recipe calls for fresh berries (raspberries, loganberries, tayberries) but his very easy recipe will rescue defrosted ones too. Essentially the recipe is this:
Weigh your berries and put them in a heavy-based saucepan.
Add 1 tablespoon of caster sugar (less if your fruit is already sweet) + half a tablespoon of eau-de-vie de Framboise + half a tablespoon of water for every 100g of fruit
If using frozen fruit you won't need the added water.
Bring slowly to the boil, then simmer 2-3 minutes, just until the fruit is about to burst.
Serve warm over ice cream, or double cream and perhaps a crisp merinque if you have it.
If you don't have eau-de-vie, Nigel suggests a raspberry liqueur. Strawberry and blackcurrant flavours go well with raspberries too or you could use a little rosewater at the end instead. I experimented with a pomegranate and rose cordial which worked very well.
Last year's raspberry crop was abundant on my allotment. Particularly from an unidentified summer fruiting variety - possibly Malling Jewel - gifted to me by an allotment neighbour. A wet autumn sadly reduced much of my late fruiting more fleshy Autumn Bliss crop to a soggy pulp. This year I've noticed the canes of the summer fruiters haven't grown as tall as normal. They look rather stunted but are heavy with the promise of fruit.
As for those jars and bottles in the larder, I need to use them up now as I'll need plenty of empty ones over the next three months to take all the fruit we can't eat or share. I feel a gooseberry meringue pie coming on. As for that raspberry jam, I'll be posting a recipe using it in a few days time to banish the weather blues.