As some of you know I have a small allotment plot. Although I have had an allotment for just 3½ years, last year, I moved plots and decided to go for mainly soft fruits. At 4m x 3m I could not possibly grow all my vegetables on it, but I could get a good selection of summer berries. I love soft summer fruits and as they tend to be rather expensive in the shops, growing them myself is ideal. I have raspberry canes, a blackberry bush, red, white and black currants, gooseberry bushes, a blueberry bush and strawberries. I also have a rhubarb plant, some herbs and a little area for growing other bits such as lettuce or this year I have a couple of courgette plants.
I find growing soft fruits particularly good , as on the whole they are not too time dependant and time is one thing I always seem short of. Once planted they tend to look after themselves and I just need to do a bit of pruning and some weeding – well thats the idea at least. I am hoping that once they are more established I will have a good crop each year and can make jams and preserves in the future. And if time is very tight at harvest I can always freeze them to use later.
Fresh or frozen berries
This year the strawberries have been a bit disappointing, not many and they are not as sweet as they could be. The raspberries are just beginning to ripen now and there are a few blackcurrants ripening now too. Last week I was able to harvest just enough berries – ok almost enough to actually make a dessert from them. As summer pudding is a favourite of mine and the rest of the family, I decide to make and share the recipe with you. To be honest, I was a little short, so I just added a few frozen blackberries that I had in the freezer to make up the quantity. And that is the beauty of this dessert, it is almost as good made with frozen fruit as it is with fresh.
To make the pudding, the fruit is just cooked until tender then piled into a bowl lined with bread. Covered with more bread and then weighted and left overnight. It is really that simple and if you make it with all frozen fruit you do not even have to cook the fruit, just mix with the sugar and allow to defrost before spooning into the bowl. You may know that I am a fan of sourdough but this is one occasion when regular soft white bread is the best.
step by step summer pudding
- 700 g mixed soft summer fruits e.g. strawberries raspberries, blackberries, red and black currants etc
- 75 g caster sugar
- about 8 slices bread crusts removed
- cream or ice cream to serve
- Hull or strip the fruits from their stalks if necessary. Place in a saucepan with the caster sugar. Cook gently over a low heat stirring occasionally for 5 to 10 minutes until the fruit is tender and the juices have begun to run.
- Use the bread to line the base and sides of a 900ml bowl.
- When the fruit is tender remove from the heat and spoon into the bread lined bowl adding all the juice. Cover with the top of the fruit with bread.
- Place a small saucer that will just fit inside the top of the bowl, on top of the pudding and weight down with some scale weights or some cans of food. Stand the bowl on a plate and chill in the refrigerator overnight.
- To serve, loosen the sides of the bowl carefully with a knife. Place a serving plate over the bowl and turn out. Serve with whipped or pouring cream or with a scoop of ice-cream
When you are ready to serve, loosen the edges of the pudding with a knife. Place a serving plate over the bowl. Invert then give the pudding a sharp shake to release the pudding from the bowl. Serve with whipped cream, pouring cream or ice cream.