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Berried treasure

PUBLISHED: 01:30 31 July 2012 | UPDATED: 21:41 20 February 2013

Berried treasure

Berried treasure

Belinda Gray has plenty of ideas for eating and preserving summer fruits


Belinda Gray has plenty of ideas for eating and preserving summer fruits





July can be a juggling act in the kitchen garden regularly sowing fast growing favourites for the salad
bowl, planting out
brassicas to feed us through winter, constantly watering thirsty squashes, courgettes and greenhouse cucumbers, and keeping up potash feeds for bulging tomatoes, peppers and aubergines. Just when the job list seems endless, the summer fruits are ripe and begging to be picked.


A few summers ago I let the fruit cage get on with it, far too consumed elsewhere and by the time picking got under way berries were bursting their juices and stone fruits over-ripe and fluffy. Now I have learnt to down tools, drop everything and harvest at the time of perfect ripeness.


Summer berries make sensational summer deserts. Gently simmer a large batch in a huge pan with a little sugar and water added, a mix of red, black and white currants, raspberries and cherries can make a really fruity compote the backbone to so many seasonal puds.


Individual summer puddings are part of July, drizzled with a glossy fruit coulis and a big blob of clotted cream. Frozen berries laid on a plate then trickled with warm, white chocolate sauce is quick yet so special. Fruit fools are simple to prepare, serve them in Moroccan tea glasses decorated with a single, fresh rose petal and home made pistachio shortbread. Sorbets and granitas look vivid as scoops, giving intense fruity flavour, serve up in vintage, glass bowls, scattered with edible flowers.


Cordials are useful for big gluts of fruit that happen at once and require a simmer and sieve. Try different combinations like blackcurrant and vanilla, rhubarb and ginger or elderflower and crushed lime juice. Perfect for long, cool summer drinks or an aperitif with a chilled prosecco. If you are growing your own blackcurrants, try making your own crme de cassis, adding brandy or vodka. Bottled it makes a great gift.


Jams and jellies boiled up in a preserving pan can use up huge quantities from the garden or pick-your-own farms. When its eaten youll be rewarded with empty jars to stash away for next year. Unscrewing the lid of apricot, fig or greengage jam for breakfast on a cold, December morning is a sure way to banish winter blues.


Preserving whole fruits in a sweet, syrup must be the fastest way to bottle summer and enjoy these seasonal fruits later on, when so little fresh fruit is available. Adding spices, honey and a shot of cider or brandy ensures plenty of prepared puddings for a busy Christmas.


So, consider what space you have in the fruit cage, where you can locate sunny sheltered pots, whether you have a spare south or west facing wall or fence for training fruit trees, and have a go at growing as much seasonal fruit as you can possibly squeeze in.










WHAT TO DO...



Summer prune apricots, plums, cherries


Trim trained apples and pears


Stop tips of tomato cordons


Keep sowing salad leaves, radishes, spring onions


Pick off caterpillars from brassicas


Check plants for aphids spray with fatty acid


Potash feed tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, fortnightly


Water cucurbits regularly


Thin out apples and pears


Train grape vines


Seaweed feed leafy greens fortnightly


Keep weeding



WHAT TO HARVEST...



Raspberries


Red, black and white currants


Apricots


Courgettes


French beans


Cucumbers


Summer squash


Garlic, onions and shallots


Salad leaves


Radishes


Beetroots



Belinda Gray runs a gardening school near Woodbridge.Contact her on 01394 384712 or at www.the-grower.co.uk



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