Are we losing our taste for gooseberries?

When was the last time you tasted a gooseberry? The encounter may well have been short and sour – you could even be one of a growing number of people whose first experience of a gooseberry is their last. In the not-too-distant future, however, these encounters (pleasurable or not) could be few and far between.

In August 2015, The Telegraph reported that ‘the death of the British gooseberry is nigh’ – but how close are we to the extinction of this heritage fruit from the British isles?

A basket of gooseberries.

Piers Pool’s fruit farm, High House, is one of the few places left in the country that you can pick your own (PYO) gooseberries. ‘Their status somehow has changed,’ he said, ‘from being a sort-of staple to something that is a little bit more select and sought-after’.

The Suffolk farm has been growing gooseberries on a small-scale for 15 years. Before that, when Piers’ father ran the farm, the gooseberry field was nearly five times larger, spread over two and a half acres. ‘When we used to open [the field] for pick your own there would be cars parked all the way up that road and the public would come in here and clear the lot in one weekend – it was just unbelievable.’

Piers now sells an 100th of that quantity over the entire six week gooseberry season, but what is driving this fall in popularity? ‘Gooseberries, like rhubarb, are not something you can just buy and put in your mouth like you can with strawberries or raspberries,’ Piers said. ‘I think our cooking habits and our eating habits have changed, and now I think people aren’t so keen on the things that you actually have to cook and do something with.’

A bowl of gooseberries.
A bowl of gooseberries.

There is, according to Piers, still a small and steady demand for them as a ‘seasonal rarity’, but their short shelf life and limited availability make it difficult for the majority of consumers to buy them. On paper at least, there is very little incentive for farmers to invest in this small, grape-like fruit – so why grow them at all?

‘The sort of fruit farm that we are, we like to grow a little bit of everything,’ explained Piers. High House can also boast a number of apple and pear varieties, cherries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and a rarer relative of the latter – loganberries.

‘They’re not particularly difficult [to grow],’ Piers admitted, ‘but you’ve got to pay attention to detail…the biggest difference in growing gooseberries over the last few years is that pigeons are a massive problem.

‘We’ve had to start netting the gooseberries to keep [the pigeons] off, otherwise we would lose the whole crop.’ This intervention is only driving the cost of production higher, something that is not ideal for growers and buyers alike. Will Piers continue to grow gooseberries? ‘As long as the demand, albeit on small scale, is there.’

New video on Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube

This week I was lucky enough to spend a morning with the lovely Danny McCubbin from Jamie’s Food Tube, teaching him how to make sourdough bread. After studying this versatile and complex dough for the last few years, I knew it would be difficult to summarise it’s process in a short video.

I hope I have illustrated the fundamentals and most importantly shown how simple, fun and delicious basic sourdough can be. If you decide to bake the recipe, please tweet me your pictures!


Sandows grows out of London

Cold brew coffee. Source: Sandows London.
Cold brew coffee. Source: Sandows London.

As of this week (22/04) the iconic British cold brew, Sandows London, will be available to purchase outside of the capital.

Three locations across the country will stock the drink; Water Lane Coffeehouse in Canterbury, The Pear Cafe in Bristol and Hoxton North in Harrogate. Nationwide distribution is available through Turners Fine Foods, also. Australian-born Hugh Duffie is one half of the increasingly popular London brand. “It’s going to be awesome to finally be available outside of London,” he said, “After a successful year last year, it feels great to kind of grow out of it [London].”

Sandows cold brew at Water Lane Coffee, Canterbury. Source: DWD.
Sandows cold brew at Water Lane Coffeehouse, Canterbury. Source: DWD.

Admittedly, the word ‘successful’ is a modest representation of the last 12 months that Hugh and his business partner, Luke Suddards, have had. In February they launched an equity-based crowd funding campaign via Crowdcube, reaching 124% of their target £100,000 in just 53 hours. Hugh explained that in just 48 hours they had sent out over 100 copies of their business plan: “It was a crazy couple of days, and a bit of a strain on our internet! What was most surreal was that some people were investing without even seeing our business plan, I mean that’s just awesome.”

Most recently Luke & Hugh launched a tasty collaboration with Fourpure Brewery. The coffee pale ale, Morning Moon, was premiered at Fourpure Brewery HQ last Saturday (18/04), selling over 50 litres in just four hours. Their exploration into the boundaries of cold brew will continue at this years London Coffee Festival, where they will be serving both the nitrogenated version of their cold brew (currently available on draught at White Lyan, Hoxton Road) as well as cold brew G&Ts.

The Sandows bar. Source: Sandows London.
The Sandows bar. Source: Sandows London.

To see a full Sandows stocklist, click here. For tickets to this years London Coffee Festival, click here.

Sandows London Twitter feed.

Sandows London Instagram feed.

Rooibos, lemon & mint iced tea

Rooibos iced tea. Source: DWD.
Rooibos iced tea. Source: DWD.

Recent warm weather (as well as plans to fly across the pond) have had me dreaming of all things light, cool and refreshing. Following on from my recent southern food obsession, I decided to try my hand at brewing iced tea.

Here rooibos tea not only provides a beautiful smoky flavour and ruby red aesthetic, but it’s naturally caffeine free.

It’s important to steep the tea for around 12 hours, and once brewed it will keep in the fridge for at least 4 days.

Serves 4

100g granulated sugar

1.2kg water

2 lemons, sliced

1 bunch of mint, roughly chopped, plus 4 small sprigs to serve

60g loose leaf rooibos tea, or 3 rooibos tea bags

Method: In a large container or bowl, add the rooibos tea and 1kg (1l) of the water. Allow to brew for at least 12 hours, covered, in the fridge.

Add the sugar, 1 lemon, mint and the 200g of remaining water into a small saucepan. Over a medium heat, stir continuously until the sugar has dissolved. Once dissolved, bring the syrup to a rolling boil and simmer for 10 minutes, until it reaches the consistency of olive oil.

Pass the syrup through a sieve into a sterilised, sealable bottle, using the back of a wooden spoon to push all of the liquid from the lemon and mint leaves (which will be quite mushy) through. This will keep for up to two weeks in the fridge.

To serve, use a ratio of 1:4 syrup to brewed tea. Add the syrup over crushed ice and stir. Add the iced tea and top up with ice if required. Serve with half a slice of lemon and a sprig of mint.

Coffee & walnut cake

Coffee & walnut cake. Source: DWD
Coffee & walnut cake. Source: DWD

This heavenly coffee and walnut cake recipe is a delicious teatime treat. The method couldn’t be simpler and there is very little equipment required. If you haven’t baked a cake before, this is a great introductory recipe, but always remember two things: don’t open the oven door while the cake is baking, and be gentle when folding in the walnuts, so as to retain as much air as possible in the cake mixture.

Serves 8-10

500g self-raising flour

400g caster sugar

220g softened butter, plus extra for greasing

3 medium eggs

1 x double shot of espresso

120g walnuts, roughly chopped

1 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp ground nutmeg

2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

a pinch of salt

250g whole milk

For the buttercream

60g butter, softened

150g icing sugar

1 x single shot of espresso

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180c/160 fan/gas mark 4. Line and grease a medium-sized cake tin.
  2. Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into the bowl of a large food processor. Add all of the other ingredients and blend until the mixture is thoroughly combined. Keep and eye on the cake mixture as it is blending and turn the food processor off as soon as it comes together.
  3. Gently fold in 100g of the walnuts into the mixture and tip into the lined cake tin. Bake for 1 hour. Once baked, set aside on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before removing the tin.
  4. To make the buttercream, add the softened butter and sugar to a medium bowl and beat together using an electric whisk until light and fluffy. Add the espresso and mix again until combined.
  5. Once the cake has cooled completely, remove from the tin and, with a palette knife or silicone spatula, evenly spread the buttercream on top. Scatter over the remaining walnuts.

Busaba Eathai opens new Shoreditch branch

On 18 February Busaba Eathai will celebrate their 15th birthday by opening their new flagship store in the heart of Shoreditch, London. The modern Thai eatery’s twelfth branch will open its doors on Bethnal Green Road for service at midday, boasting a ‘creative and regularly changing’ menu from Executive Chef Jude Sangsida.

New Busaba Shoreditch location. Source: Sauce Communications.
New Busaba Shoreditch location. Source: Sauce Communications.

Busaba regulars needn’t fear, as classics including Thai calamari and sen chan pad thai will remain on the menu alongside newer dishes, like Thai roti wraps and chilli beef rice.

Dishes at Busaba. Source: Sauce Communications.
Dishes at Busaba. Source: Sauce Communications.

The new location, spread across two floors and accommodating up to 164 covers, represents the group’s evolution, said Busaba CEO Jason Myers. “This launch marks a pivotal moment in the Busaba Eathai story. Our new site here in Shoreditch brings together all of the magic of its predecessors as well as representing our evolution as we celebrate our 15th birthday.”

A unique feature to the Busaba Shoreditch branch will be the new Thai Kinnaree Bar (pron. Khin-NAH-rah). During the week the bar will host diners for lunch, with a number of new Thai-inspired cocktail offerings. On Friday and Saturday nights visitors can expect to hear music from the resident Hoxton Radio DJs.

Thai inspired cocktail at Busaba. Source; Sauce Communications.
Thai inspired cocktail at Busaba. Source: Sauce Communications.

As part of their fifteenth birthday, Busaba Eathai will be hosting 6-weeks of free Sookjai (‘happy heart’) events. Yoga sessions, meditation classes and wellbeing talks will all be included.

For more information, or to make a booking, visit:

This article was featured in TMRW Magazine. Read the online version here.

Student suppers #2: Marmite & salami conchiglie

Marmite & salami chonchiglie. Source: DWD.
Marmite & salami chonchiglie. Source: DWD.

Some dishes don’t need a lot said about them, and this is one of them! It’s quick, simple, light and delicious. For me, the marmite is what brings all of the elements of the dish together, but it can easily be omitted. If you do remove the Marmite, add another 2 cloves of garlic and a little extra salt when seasoning.

Ingredients (serves 2):

4 cloves of garlic

10 thin slices of salami

1 tbsp Marmite

1 large knob of butter

A small handful of basil, roughly chopped

175g dried conchiglie

Method: Pre-heat your oven to 150c/130c fan/gas mark 2. Wrap the garlic in a layer of tin foil and gently roast for roughly 25 minutes, until very soft and the inside of the garlic clove has baked down to a paste.

After the garlic has been roasting for 15 minutes, spread the salami on a lined baking tray and add it to the oven with the garlic until crispy, about 10 minutes. When crisp, tear into quarters.

Bring a pan of water, with plenty of salt in, to the boil. Add the dried pasta to the water and cook as advised on the label.

When cooked, drain the pasta, reserving ½ cup of the cooking water. Put the pasta, cooking water and large knob of butter back into the pan and mix well over a low heat.

Add the marmite, garlic cloves (skins removed) and salami quarters to the pan and stir well until everything is heated through. Add a pinch of ground black pepper to taste and serve while hot. Shred the basil and scatter over the top to finish.

Student suppers #1: Spiced squash & apple soup

Spiced squash & apple soup. Source: DWD.
Spiced squash & apple soup. Source: DWD.

As a student, I know how easy it is to buy your soup from your closest Every Little Helps store. It takes no time at all, costs very little money and most importantly – there is next to no washing up.

For the same amount of time and washing up, you can create a soup that is marginally more expensive, but is unbelievably delicious. Not only that, but it freezes very well, so one large batch can sort your lunches for a week and cost as little as 60p per portion.

Luckily, I had a jar of chilli jam kicking around, but in this recipe, you can substitute the jam for one extra apple and a teaspoon of dried chilli flakes. Serve with a little crème fraiche to offset the heat.

Ingredients (serves 4):

1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped

2 medium butternut squash, peeled and diced

2 cox apples, peeled and diced

1 litre vegetable stock

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 tbsp chilli jam

1 tbsp garam masala

Method: Add the oil to a large, heavy based pan on a medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the squash, onion, apple and garam masala.

Stir so that everything has an even covering of oil and spice and cook for 4 minutes, or until the apple, onion and squash has gently coloured. Add the vegetable stock, fennel seeds and chilli jam and stir until incorporated well.

Bring the pan to the boil, and then simmer for 15 minutes, or until the squash is soft.

Take the pan off the heat and blend well with a stick blender, ensuring there are no large chunks of squash or apple. Season to taste. Serve while hot or freeze for up to 3 months.