I Don't Know From These Berries....
July 27, 2013 8:01 AM   Subscribe

CSA filter - I seek recipes to use the abundance of gooseberries (3 pints) and red currants (2 pints) I now have. Complications - single diner who's faced this problem before and already has jam from last year.

I already know about the usual applications - pies, crumbles, jam, etc. - but the problem with making a whole pie or a whole pan of crumble is that I am a single person, and cannot eat through a whole pie fast enough before it goes bad. Same problem with the "roast-pork-with-fruit" suggestions. So I'm looking for recipes that:

1. Can make a bunch of individual portions rather than one big whole pie/cake/whatever - so muffins would work,
2. Can be frozen if need be, or
3. Can last a long time in the fridge.

I could cook down the gooseberries into a compote and just use that in a bunch of applications; if you know some applications, that'd be good.

Would rather not make yet more jam. I already have some from last year - both gooseberry AND red currant. I'm having the same problem with jam that I have with fruit (I also can't eat my way through that much toast). And the same problem with roast-pork-with-whatever (unless you can point me to suggestions for how to scale it down to a solo diner). Although there is a gooseberry curd I may try, and I'm also interested in ice cream or sorbet applications if you have any recommendations.
posted by EmpressCallipygos to Food & Drink (30 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Crumble in individual ramekins. Can be frozen before baking.
posted by mollymayhem at 8:07 AM on July 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Simple syrup infusions are great for drinks. Just crush and boil some berries in water for a few minutes (boil off some water and extract lotsa flavor), then reduce to simmering and add some sugar while the water's still hot. Take it off the heat and let it approach room temperature. Strain and jar. I would use brown sugar, and maybe go with 1.5 cups of water, 1 cup berries, 1 cup sugar as the ratio. If you prefer maple syrup or honey or stevia or whatever, you could play with that, too. Adjust water amount for viscosity preference. Low viscosity: cocktail worthy. High viscosity, ice cream drizzle worthy.
posted by oceanjesse at 8:12 AM on July 27, 2013

In addition to simple syrups, you can make shrubs, which are all the rage in craft cocktails right now, but also make nice drinks mixed with seltzer/soda water. Cover the fruit in cider vinegar and let steep a couple of days. Drain the liquid, discard the fruit, heat the liquid and add an equal amount of sugar. Skim the foam and you're done. I don't know how long it keeps; we go through it quickly.

Would make a really nice addition to an ice cream soda.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:17 AM on July 27, 2013 [5 favorites]

Oh I feel your pain. I should be out there right now, picking more berries!.

What I do:

I freeze the berries in batches in vacuumed plastic bags, and every time I'm in the mood, I cook copious amounts of jelly and jam. Nice-looking jars of non-yukky jam can be distributed to friends, sent as birthday presents and their contents can also be spread over Linzertorte (I mean, when that's being made, which could happen, right?).

Frozen berries, put into the juicer-steamer thingy just as they are, tend to extract better than fresh ones. If you're careful with keeping each batch of jam/jelly medium-sized, and if the relationship between pectin, sugar and berries/juice is right, you get very reliable, sturdy and yummy results. Clean your jars thoroughly before filling them, and everything keeps good for years.

If your freezer is full of berries and your pantry full of jars, do like we do this year: We're giving our red currants to the birds, and I only pick the black ones, of which there are less. Gooseberries I haven't got here (only wild ones that unfortunately develop mildew before they get ripe).

Gooseberries are otherwise nice cleaned and slow-boiled whole, in their own weight of jam sugar (sugar with pectin already added, a usual thing in Northern Europe). Stir a lot at first, and once they burst and release their juice, let them bubble until they have shrunk a fair bit and the jam turns golden (or red-brown, if you use red gooseberries). Perfect sugary lumps of gooseberry on your peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Oh yum.
posted by Namlit at 8:37 AM on July 27, 2013

Oh well, I guess this reads as
OP: "no jam"
Me: "moar, and better jam, or pitch the berries."

Sorry about that. Still, perhaps the tip of refining the jam-making and using it as presents helps..."
posted by Namlit at 8:42 AM on July 27, 2013

The nice thing about jams and suchlike, is they make great homemade gifts: "look at the time and effort I went to, just for you!"

And pies? Take one to work, and be the most loved person in the place.
posted by easily confused at 8:42 AM on July 27, 2013

Response by poster: I see I should also add the disclaimers that not only did I make jam last year, I also pulled the "give away jam to people" stuff last year too - and my pickles went over better than the jam. And as for "bake something to bring to work," I'm currently unemployed.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:45 AM on July 27, 2013

Response by poster: But side note to mollymayhem: tell me more about freezing individual crumbles before baking. Would you need to thaw before baking? Or how would you adjust for the frozen state? That is exactly the kind of thing I'm looking for.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:47 AM on July 27, 2013

I have gooseberries and red currant at home right now and I mostly just snack on it - it never lasts long.

Currant can go into cereal, yoghurt or with a salad - either a fruit salad or with lettuce/arugula/spinach. Toss some cheese into the mix as well. If you think about the flavor it goes well with feta, cheddar, goat cheese, camembert, brie or blue cheese I think. Here is a salad with peas and corn. Here is one with apples and lettuce.

If you feel like a heavier dessert, creme brulee or panna cotta topped off with red currant are great.
posted by travelwithcats at 8:48 AM on July 27, 2013

With a small amount of fruit, some sugar and a package of yeast, you could throw it all into a 1 gallon jug and make yourself some fruit wine. It's surprisingly easy to do.
posted by tenaciousmoon at 8:49 AM on July 27, 2013

Could you dry the currants, and treat them like one might use raisins or dried cranberries? Put in/eat with salads, breads, curries, chutneys, cheeses? Drying fruit really just takes a low oven with steady air circulation, so you'd need to be home all day, but it's low-effort after working out the set up. There are lots of tutorials online for different levels of commitment. Store in airtight containers in your pantry for ages and ages. Then, eat like any other dried fruit, or rehydrate with a selection of yummy (boozy?) liquids for cooking.
posted by Mizu at 8:49 AM on July 27, 2013

Get some baking dishes that will hold 1 - 3 portions, and make berry crisp/ crumble in small portions. You can make the crumble topping and keep it in the fridge for at least a week, practically indefinitely in the freezer. If you have frozen berries, just put berries in the dish, add lemon juice, top with crumble topping, and bake. You could add corn starch, sugar and lemon juice to the berries before freezing, but I'm lazy and don't like super-sweet berries, so I'd just let the topping sweeten the berries. You can use the same dishes to make small pies. Frozen berries, sugar, lemon, perhaps some flour or corn starch, top with ready made pie crust, bake. Frozen berries defrost very quickly.

Preserves, as opposed to jam, are exactly that, a way to preserve fruit. Make berry preserves, serve over ice cream or sweet biscuits. I'm in the US, and use a whole wheat version of Bisquick to make shortbread biscuits. Layered with fruit and whipped cream, they're one of my favorite desserts.

You could make pork chops with fruit, instead of a pork roast. Slather chops with fruit, roast.

Any blueberry muffin recipe would work well with currants or gooseberries. I like blueberry corn muffins.

If there is a farmer's market, could you make pies to sell? Perhaps make pals with a farmer who would take a portion in exchange for giving you a bit of table space. You'd need to make a label with ingredients, and your name and contact information.

They'd probably be excellent in smoothies with whatever you like in your smoothies - typically yogurt and/or coconut milk, berries, sugar or honey as needed. Smoothies can be frozen in paper cups to help survive this humid summer.
posted by theora55 at 9:00 AM on July 27, 2013

~would gladly take a couple jars of gooseberry jam off your hands.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:07 AM on July 27, 2013

Dry it, you'll like it! It's likely someone you know has a dehydrator, or if you live somewhere dry just do it outside (growing up we dried our fruit on window screens on the roof.)

Dried berries (rehydrated in hot water) are great in oatmeal.
posted by vespabelle at 9:09 AM on July 27, 2013

Best answer: I'd make hand pies-make pie filling or jam with berries-yOu want to thicken and sweeten them. Use pie crust or puff pastry-either roll and cut into rectangles or do small circles. A tablespoon or so of filling, fold and seal. Bake partially and freeze-then finish baking from frozen when you're ready to eat. Google homemade pop tarts for some inspiration!

Also seconding fruit syrups. I'm canning jars and jars of plum syrup right now-it's fabulous for making soda.
posted by purenitrous at 9:15 AM on July 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Gooseberries make great chutney.
posted by neroli at 9:34 AM on July 27, 2013

Best answer: Tiny pies in mason jars. Single serving. Freezable. Adorable.
posted by krix at 10:55 AM on July 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Redcurrant squash with vanilla to mix with water or enhance cocktails etc
posted by kmennie at 10:56 AM on July 27, 2013

Gooseberries freeze really well raw or stewed. I used to freeze when and then bake them with basic vanilla cake mix over the top for a cake / crumble experience. And I could definitely eat that within a day or so.

You can do the same thing with red currents - bake into a cake from frozen.
posted by kadia_a at 10:58 AM on July 27, 2013

place berries in blender
add ice
taste - maybe add a little sugar if it needs some sweetness
add vodka
invite a friend over, or bring to a friend's house

that's pretty much always my "extra fruit" solution
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 11:10 AM on July 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'd just freeze them and use the currants in smoothies or muffins or whatever as the mood strikes and I'd eat the gooseberries.
posted by Ideefixe at 11:38 AM on July 27, 2013

Make up some batches of slice and bake cookies to freeze!
posted by grapesaresour at 1:02 PM on July 27, 2013

There must be a charity Bake Sale somewhere near you. Your home made jam/jelly/crumble/whatever would sell easily and make you feel like Lady Bountiful - in a good wayl
posted by Cranberry at 2:15 PM on July 27, 2013

I would freeze them and then blend them w/ frozen banana, almond milk, spinach, flax, and chia seeds for awesome quick and healthy breakfast smoothies.
posted by c'mon sea legs at 3:14 PM on July 27, 2013

Best answer: We bake crumbles and freeze them. For individual crumbles, use foil ramekins. Or your local supermarket has small aluminum pans that are usually used for tiny loaves of banana bread. That's what we do and it usually serves 2-3 portions. Mix berries with sugar, lemon juice and a teaspoon of cornstarch. I don't know what the proportions would be for gooseberries since we always use peaches but for instance, it's 1/3 cup sugar to 3.5 pounds of peaches. Here's my crumble topping:
1 cup flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
6 tbsp butter, cut into 6 pieces, softened
Combine flour, sugars, salt in food processor, drizzle vanilla on top. Pulse. Add butter. Pulse until it clumps together. Spread on fruit. Bake 18-20 minutes. Cool and freeze.
posted by biscuits at 4:48 PM on July 27, 2013

Response by poster: Biscuits, what's the thaw-and-reheat process?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:55 PM on July 27, 2013

Best answer: Cover with foil so that the crumble topping doesn't get burnt. We didn't thaw or only thawed while the oven was heating up. Pop in 350 oven for about a half hour (though it depends how thick you layer your fruit so check it). Oh, and someone just told me that gooseberries are sour so you might want to increase the sugar with the berries.
posted by biscuits at 5:39 PM on July 27, 2013

Smitten Kitchen has whole heaps of recipes that might work. There's a number of hand pies and the like with other kinds of fruit that could probably be easily adapted. There's a homemade pop tarts recipe that looks super promising. Her make ahead rec is to freeze the dough, but I'd say you could easily make the tarts, freeze them in batches, and defrost them in the toaster much as you would a waffle or whatever. She does organize her recipes by fruit but there aren't any gooseberries or currants (lots of other berries, and I'm sure again that subbing would be relatively sane).
posted by librarylis at 9:11 PM on July 27, 2013

Response by poster: So ultimately I'm going with syrups and tiny pies - half the gooseberries cooked down to a scant cup of syrup, and half the currants did the same. So I'll be combining the rest of the gooseberries and currants into a single pie filling and making a bunch of gooseberry-currant minipies and crumbles. Thanks!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:49 AM on July 31, 2013

Response by poster: (P.S. - I saw a bottle of elderflower-and-sparkling-water something at my local fancy-deli, and picked it up in advance of making this - am right now sipping on a glass of that elderflower spiked with a shot of the gooseberry syrup. Yes, this was the right move.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:21 AM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

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