Invicta Gooseberries from Tibbs Farm

About gooseberries 

Gooseberries are related to blackcurrants but Invicta are slightly larger, like small grapes. The Elizabethans loved them but over the years popularity has dwindled until recently when imaginative foodies have restored their reputation.  They are a natural partner to oily fish, in salads and add the same tartness to creamy puddings that you would usually use citrus flavours.

The Invicta gooseberry is a popular variety. The Invicta gooseberries we sell come from the Tibbs fruit farm, in Udimore, East Sussex, where they mostly grow strawberries and gooseberries until the small summer fruits come through (soon).

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How do they taste?

The Invicta gooseberry is a large yellow-green fruit – and their taste can vary, depending on where they are grown, but we can definitely say that this variety is smooth and not too tart.

How to store them?

To store gooseberries, just place them loosely in a shallow container, cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate (for up to 2-3 days). Don’t wash them until they’re ready to be eaten, as they can grow a bit mouldy if they’re left damp in the fridge.

If you want to freeze the berries, wash them carefully in cold water, pat dry and place in a single layer on baking tray in the freezer. Once the berries are frozen, transfer them to airtight containers or freezer bags and return them to freezer.


What foods pair with gooseberries?

Most recipe ideas use the base of a gooseberry compote… A delightful combination of gooseberries and sugar, or honey/maple syrup work equally well, reduced down with a splash of water till soft and pulpy.

If you’re looking for food that pairs well with gooseberries, try adding elderflower cordial – add a spoonful of your compote to elderflower cordial with a little fresh ginger for a refreshing summer drink.

You can also use compote in stunning cakes – spread a spoonful of compote along with softly whipped cream as an alternative filling to Victoria sponge or a delicious topping to party buns or the perfect accompaniment to ginger scones.

Gooseberries can also be used in pastries and pies;  you could whip up a delicious patchwork strawberry & gooseberry pie. (link to the recipe http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/3147693/patchwork-strawberry-and-gooseberry-pie)

Gooseberries are not just great for dessert; they work equally well as part of a savoury main meal too. Pair them with oily fish, like salmon alongside seasonal greens for a balance to the rich flavours. Or try gooseberries combined with Asian flavours like soy, chilli and fish sauce to achieve a hot and sour taste which is a little similar to the Japanese sour plum umami sensation.

But if you prefer, you could also try to cook a simple but delightful old fashioned gooseberry pie.:

Ingredients 
  • 250 g. unsalted butter
  • 140 g. icing sugar
  • 5 eggs yolks
  • 500 g. plain flour, plus extra for dusting
For the filling 
  • 900 g. Invicta gooseberries
  • about 200 g. caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling

 

  1. To make the pastry, mix the butter and icing sugar together in a bowl, then tip in 4 egg yolks. Add the flour and mix it all together with your fingers until you get a crumbly texture like damp breadcrumbs. Work in 1-2 tbsp water until the pastry just comes together, then divide it in half and roll it into 2 balls. This will make double the amount you need, so freeze half for another time. Lay the ball you are using on a floured surface, flatten it out with your hands, wrap the dough in cling film and chill for at least 30 mins.
  2. For the filling, tip the fruit, sugar, or a splash of water into a saucepan and simmer everything for about 10 mins until the fruit is soft. Taste for sweetness, adding more sugar if you think it needs it. Pour the fruit into a pie dish about 25cm wide and 5cm deep.
  3. Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface so it’s big enough to make a lid for your pie dish. Cut a thin strip of pastry to stick onto the lip of the pie dish – this doesn’t have to be one continuous piece. Stick it on with a little water, then moisten the strip with more water and place the pastry lid on top. Press down firmly, trim off any excess pastry and crimp. Make a hole in the middle of the lid, brush the top with the remaining egg yolk and sprinkle over some caster sugar. You should have enough pastry trimmings left over to make some artistic leaves to decorate your pie, if you like. Bake for 30 mins or until the top is golden brown. Leave the pie to relax a little, then serve it with custard or vanilla ice cream.

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Come and visit us to see our online shop at www.finandfarm.co.uk 

Invicta Gooseberries from Tibbs Farm

Apple juice from Ringden farm

Morgane’s interview with Scott at Ringden Farm

During our visit to the Ringden farm – Hurst Green, East Sussex – Scott, who is working on the farm, answered a few questions.

 

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Could you tell me the story of your farm? Why did you become a farmer?

 Well I work in the family business, I am not one of the family. But it’s been a family business for over 50 years now and they were mainly just growing apples and pears but due to a violent hailstorm one year, they lost lots of their crops so they decided to branch out into making apple juice. Since then, they have won several awards, both for speciality fruits but also for individual juices themselves. They’re well known within the industry for their knowledge and we have over 48 varieties of apple juice so it’s one of the largest selections in the UK. We’ve also since branched out into doing small range of blended drinks.

To celebrate our 50th anniversary last year we introduced a range called “Bentley’s” which was named after the grandfather who actually bought the farm over 50 years ago. They’re all familiar apple juice–based drinks. We also produce drinks like lavender lemonade, elderflower and lime, and lemonade and lime.

The other products we have now, which we introduced last year, is an elderflower cordial, which is made using fresh elderflowers.  Also we make a raw cider vinegar, which is unpasteurized. It has great health benefits.

Thank you! So how long have you been working on the farm?

About 5 years.

Where do you grow your fruit? 

The majority of fruit is grown on the farm, but because they’re third generation here they know all the farmers around, we share unusual varieties with some neighbouring farms as well.

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Thanks. What methods do you use to make an apple juice?

Basically, when the apples come in, they get hand picked from the trees and put into apple bins. Then they go to the press itself and the apples and any badly bruised apples will get taken out.  All the apples are washed, then they go on to the belt where steel drums will actually squash them. The juice goes into stainless steel trays and then get put into big pads. After they have settled, the next day, after the settlement has fallen to the bottom the juice is bottled and pasteurised.

How many litres do you produce a year?

We produce 350 000 litres per year.

How many apples do you need for a bottle of apple juice?

About 8 apples. It depends on what apples as some are more juicy than others!

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Do you grow anything else?

We grow a small amount of quince and some medlars.  We also have some strawberries and gooseberries.

How do you treat your trees?

Minimally – we don’t overspray our trees.  We sell what they call “ugly fruits”. It’s more natural and better for everyone.

 

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Nathan and Scott, from Ringden farm.

 


Visit us for more info at : www.finandfarm.co.uk

Apple juice from Ringden farm

Strawberries: Our summer’s favourite!

Morgane’s blog about Strawberries

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A little history… 

Humans have known strawberries since pretty much forever, wild strawberries of course – But it is only at the end of the 16th century that plants were introduced in Europe by America’s explorers, such as Jacques Cartier.

Throughout antiquity, strawberries have seen many different uses other than as a food source. For example, it was used as a symbol for Venus, the Goddess of Love, because of its heart shape and red colour. The ancient Romans believed that strawberries had great medicinal value; they used it to reduce the symptoms of varied maladies, from simple melancholy to kidney stones.

The strawberries species we know today are actually hybrid species – this hybridisation is the union of two species of strawberries native to America – union that gave us our garden strawberries.

Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, an antioxidant that is important for the immune system and skin health. They have been used throughout history in a medicinal context to help with teeth whitening, skin irritation, inflammation and heart disease. Their fibre and fructose content also help regulate blood sugar levels by slowing digestion, and the fibre is thought to have a satiating effect.

Did you know? Strawberry is actually not a fruit. The visible yellow “seeds” that dot the surface of the strawberry are achenes. Achenes are actually the fruits of strawberries plants.


How to store strawberries

 

The trick is to keep strawberries cold and dry so they won’t go mouldy.

For keeping a short time: arrange the strawberries – without washing or removing the stems on a paper towel-lined tray and cover with plastic wrap; then refrigerate.

Before eating or using them, wash the strawberries under cool water and then remove stems.

For a longer time; if you want to freeze your strawberries for smoothies or cakes, place rinsed, dried and stemmed whole strawberries, cut sides down, on a greaseproof paper-lined baking tray;

Freeze, uncovered, for six hours. Then transfer to a freezer bag. You can store them in the freezer for up to three months.


Foods that pair with strawberries

 

Strawberries can be used with many different things. They may be eaten whole, sliced or crushed. Strawberries are an excellent addition to fruits salads, ice cream and sorbets. Perfect for summer! When strawberries are overly ripe they can also be used in pies, mousses, smoothies, puddings and cakes! Strawberries pair perfectly either with a bit of sugar, vanilla ice cream or with whipped cream! My favourite way to eat strawberries is with some whipped cream and melted chocolate on top of it!

But strawberries can also be used for savoury recipes -of course! In salads, appetisers, or even with chicken or fish!

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You can actually find some very interesting strawberries recipes on the BBC Good Food site (http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/strawberry) – from the good old strawberry jam to a strawberry and white chocolate mousse cake!


Visit us at www.finandfarm.co.uk

Strawberries: Our summer’s favourite!