Friday, June 16, 2006


Yippee! This is the day I’ve been waiting for for weeks, this is the day the PYO opens.

The best thing would be an allotment, but my parish council doesn’t have any allotments, so the next best thing is the Pick Your Own fruit and vegetable farm. Due to our crazy weather it has opened a little late this season, and today was my first day there.

Tom Phippen’s farm, at Chew Magna, is run by Tom (son of the original Tom), and his wife Jean. High above Chew Lake, it has one of the best views in the county and an atmosphere of complete peace and tranquillity. The season starts with strawberries – grown at table top height for ease of picking – and gooseberries, and continues through raspberries, tayberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants, broad beans, peas etc etc. It is the next best thing to growing them yourself – actually in many ways it is much better than growing them yourself because someone else has done all the hard work!

Gooseberries are suddenly terribly fashionable and according to Jean the crop will be completely picked in ten days. It used to be that you couldn’t give gooseberries away, but now the goosegog has become hip, the cool green berries rarely seen in supermarkets and having a short season. They are easy to pick, although the bushes are thorny, and, unlike the other summer fruits, not as tempting to gorge yourself on whilst picking.

Top and tail them, and then put to stew gently with a little water and quite a lot of sugar. Sometimes I add elderflower cordial for an extra kick. This will be my breakfast for the next few days, with some greek yoghurt.

They make the best fool in the world, swirled with custard, or, even more decadently, whipped cream. Or try as a sauce for mackerel, the fish slashed and grilled over the barbeque.

Tom Phippen’s farm, Chew Magna 01275 332397 – phone for directions (Tom and Jean, see left)


Susan in Italy said...

The gooseberries do look lovely and I can imagine the sweetened, stewed ones with thick Greek yogurt. Lovely breakfast.

Bonnie said...

Hi June, I just found you're blog and it's beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

June said...

Welcome! Lovely to hear from you.

SumisuYoshi said...

Just found your blog and loving it. Those gooseberries look wonderful, one of my favorites. I'll have to try them like that next time I can find some. They're really quite good dried as well.

June said...

How lovely to hear from you, and I've never heard of dried gooseberries but it sounds a fantastic idea. How do you do it,just slowly in the oven? Please let us know.

SumisuYoshi said...

I've got a small food dehydrator, and I just used that. Took maybe 2 or 3 days? The gooseberries have a texture quite different from any other dried fruit I've seen, they're almost papery.

Also tried some currants (red and white) in it. They also turned out quite nicely. Tiny little tart morsels. I didn't have enough to bake with, but I imagine they would be lovely in muffins, scones, etc.

June said...

I've also enjoyed a mix of nuts and dried cranberries, which are quite tart. Didn't make it myself though!

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