Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Gooseberry semi-freddo and a little PYO goodness

Last Monday, on one of Mr M's days off (to recover from the London to Brighton - cramp, sore parts in spite of padded protection and general aches etc) we popped to Garsons and did a little PYO. The sun was hot, hot, hot.

There is something about Pick Your Own that whizzes you back to your childhood, when summer holidays were made up entirely of hot, sticky days with never ending blue skies, soaring swifts and the lightest of butterfly breezes.
First stop - sugar snaps and mangetout. Interesting fact - weeds are grown amongst the sugar snaps to give them support. Clever! It also hides the best of the sugar snaps from the average PYO-bod. Double clever! I was highly amused by the carrot bed that had forks attached to a chain so that you could only ever dig in a circle. With our bags stuffed, we paid for our hoard and hopped in the car to the gooseberry field.There were some die-hard gooseberry fans who had clearly been there for some time as their punnets were filled to the brim. We found a row where the bushes were groaning under the weight of their sun-warmed jewels. A punnet full later and it was off to the strawberry field. A pretty cost effective way to ensure tasty, not frozen in transit or picked too soon produce.

As you know, the strawberries were made into this delectable treat. My half that was popped in the fridge for the next day didn't make it beyond my 11 o'clock coffee. Mr M managed to adhere to the German rule of coffee and cake at 3pm. Apparently his work colleagues were rather confused about where the cake had come from and were worried that they had missed out. The sugar snaps and mangetout have made an appearance in every salad that we've eaten over the past seven days. A handful popped in the colander with boiling water direct from the kettle poured on top until they go bright green is all they need. Run instantly under the cold tap and they retain the crunch and are heavenly.

The gooseberries on the other hand were relegated to the back of the fridge due to the incredibly ripe strawberries. We had intended to make a gooseberry fool, but we just never quite got around to it. On Saturday, whilst rummaging around in the fridge and keen not to let anything go to waste, I pulled out the leftover sponge and gooseberries and became a woman on a mission to make a gooseberry semi-freddo meets arctic roll concoction. And do you know what? It worked.

375g gooseberries
70g caster sugar
1-2 tbsp water
150ml double cream
400g Greek yoghurt
Sponge base - see recipe here
  1. Over a low heat, let the gooseberries, sugar and water gently break down and simmer until the mixture becomes glossy. This should take about 10 minutes. Try to avoid stirring too much before the sugar has dissolved as it tends to scratch the pan dreadfully - I find jiggling works quite well. Set aside to cool. We kept the skin and pips in to add texture, but you can obviously strain the sauce if you prefer.
  2. Line a loaf tin with cling film. Make sure you have enough overhang on all four sides so that you can form a cover once the tin is full.
  3. Cut out a rectangle of sponge to fit the base of the tin. I only had enough to do the base and a strip in the middle. If I had had more I would have done three layers - bottom, middle and top.
  4. In a bowl, whip the double cream into peaks. Gently fold through the yoghurt, then fold through the cold gooseberry mixture. Try not to over-fold, as you'll lose the raspberry ripple effect.
  5. Pour half of the mixture into the tin. Gently place the sponge on top. Pour the rest of the mixture into the tin, fold over the cling film ends and pop in the freezer for 5-6 hours.
  6. Slice and serve.
We're keeping ours in the freezer and cutting a slice whenever we fancy. At some point I will move onto a lettuce and fruit only diet but with no major beach holidays booked, I'm not so worried...


  1. That sounds lush! I made some gooseberry and elderflower jam with the gooseberries we picked from the PYO on saturday!! Can't wait to have my own garden so we can have a gooseberry bush, they bear so much fruit, it's brilliant!

  2. Now that we have the allotment, I really miss doing PYO. You're so right that it takes you right back to childhood.

    I'd never had gooseberries before moving to England, but now I adore them, especially in gooseberry ice cream. And your semifreddo looks really yummy too!

    And thank you so much for the tip re sugar snaps and boiling water poured on top. Going to try that straight away!

    K x

  3. That semi-freddo looks delicious. I picked gooseberries too but couldn't think beyond turning them into a fool! In the unlikely event there are any left when we visit the PYO again this week, I'll give your recipe a try. Thank you!

  4. wonderful! I was thinking about planting some gooseberries, now I'm convinced.