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The first gooseberries are ready for picking at just about the time when the elder is flowering in hedges throughout the country and this makes a natural partnership, the elder flowers giving an exotic flavour reminiscent of muscat grapes to the familiar green berries. (But elderflowers are not all the same - the right one for the kitchen smells pleasantly perfumed and, needless to say, should be picked well away from busy roads.)
Don't leave the flowers in with the gooseberries for more than a few minutes, or they will overpower the fruit. And it's worth remembering that a lot of the flavour in gooseberries is in the skin, so they should be crushed (or liquidised) rather than sieved if you don’t want to use them whole.
l lb / 450g gooseberries
5 fl oz / 150 ml water
1 or 2 sprays of elderflowers
8 oz /225g sugar, or to taste
1/2 pint / 300 ml double cream or thick custard, or a mixture.
Top and tail the gooseberries and put into a pan with the water.
Bring to the boil, add the elderflowers and cook for 5 minutes, then remove the elderflowers and discard. Continue to simmer the gooseberries gently until they are soft.
Remove from the heat, cool back a little, then mash them thoroughly or liquidise them in a blender.
Turn into a mixing bowl, add the sugar and taste for sweetness - early in the season they may need a good bit more.
Fold in the whipped cream or custard, or equal quantities of each and put into a glass serving dish or individual glasses.
Chill. Decorate with whipped cream and serve with almond biscuits.