I mentioned that our rather grumpy and unfruiting gooseberry bush suddenly brought forth brave brood – nearly a pound of fruit! We’re now wondering whether to have pie crumble or fool. There aren’t enough goosegogs to do anything else, but I did look up some recipes in Ambrose Heath’s small book ‘Homemade Wines and Liqueurs. There was gooseberry cordial which sounded rather nice, I can imagine it’s very refreshing. However when I looked more closely at the ingredients I find that as well as a pint of fresh gooseberry juice, an inch of cinnamon stick, four cloves and a strip of lemon rind, there is two pints of unsweetened gin. No thanks!! Not for me!!
In the same slim volume is a traditional recipe for gooseberry wine; a friend of ours used to make wine from all sorts of different fruit, flowers and vegetables, and it was very good, but my favourite was his slightly sparkling – pétillant gooseberry wine. Then I came across a most extraordinary recipe, I can’t imagine what it would taste like, ghastly I imagine – but who knows!
- 5 gallons (yes gallons) of crushed ripe yellow gooseberries
- 1½ lbs washed but unpeeled beetroot, boiled for 20 mins (yes beetroot) then sliced
- 15 lbs (yes 15) beet sugar
- 1 oz bruised ginger
- thinly pared rind of 2 lemons
- 1 oz of isinglass
- 1 pint brandy
- put the gooseberries, beetroot, and 5 gallons of cold boiled water in a tub
- stir well and leave for 4 days, stirring several times a day
- strain the liquor into a cask through a flannel bag (who has flannel bags these days? I see some difficulty in trying this, even if I were tempted to!)
- add the ginger, lemon peel and isinglass dissolved in some of the liquor
- let it ferment and when fermentation is complete, add the brandy and bung tightly
- bottle after twelve months, seal and wire the corks, keep for another six months
This recipe takes over eighteen months! What a quantity of ingredients to use on something you have no idea whether you’re going to like it or not! Does beetroot, gooseberry, ginger, lemon and brandy sound a great combination? Not sure on that one! I think you’d have to be an experienced wine-maker to make something where you have to wire the corks – it sounds dangerous to me!