Catherine Devaney runs catering company Harper and Lime. Here she shares a recipe from her kitchen in Fife for using gooseberries.
I have a particularly childish fondness for our gooseberry bushes. Without much in the way of care, and strangers to the pruning shears, they unselfishly come up with the goods summer after summer.
This year, on one of those very close, humid days when the breeze is no more than a whisper in the trees, we headed down armed with a bowl, to find hundreds of plump, translucent, pale green globes hanging like little fairy lanterns amid the thorns, from impossibly graceful stems.
The kids gleefully tucked in, happy enough to relish the tart, acidic crunch without the need for sugar.
By mid-July some gooseberries are just about sweet enough to eat straight from the stem.
But poached with a little sugar, they really come into their own. The trick is to add just enough sugar to coax out the natural flavour, without masking that precious, refreshing tartness.
Top and tail the gooseberries then pop them in a pan with some caster sugar. I would start with two tablespoons per 175g whole gooseberries, and a dash of elderflower cordial or water (depending on how ripe they are you can always add more sugar later if they need an extra sweeten).
Let them simmer on a medium heat for about five minutes, shaking the pan gently, until they start to burst and soften but hold their shape. Transfer to a bowl to chill in the fridge.
Once cool, crush lightly with a fork and the compote is ready to stir through softly whipped cream for a classic gooseberry fool, or try adding icing sugar and vanilla essence as you whip, with a grating of lime zest.
They’re also delicious spooned over a custard tart, vanilla cheesecake, or in a pie. For a savoury angle, they partner beautifully with cheese. Remember they freeze well too.