Gooseberry Bushes and Gin Palaces

Taking time out from the East London gin palace I've been down on the allotment where everything is taking off! It's like April and May have all happened in one week with apple, cherry, dandelions and rosemary and the last of the daffodils all flowering at once. Thick green grass twined with goosegrass with the rasping feel of a cat's tongue has shot up. Weekly strimming and weeding starts here.

The new rhubarb and fruit bushes have established themselves and on close inspection beneath the branches I can report that there is something fattening up under the gooseberry bushes. Not sure if I really should be as excited as I am, but I never fail to be slightly amazed by the emergence of real proper food on a plant!

The gooseberries are destined for gooseberry and elderflower vodka. I'm keeping a watch for the first flowering of the elderflowers, so I can make the base floral liqueur. Although they are such a glorious match they are ready at different times, with gooseberries ripening about a month after the last of the elderflowers have gone.

In my endless quest to promote well being through the drinking of liqueurs I have been researching the health giving properties of gooseberries and elderflower. Both have been used in herbal medicine for hundreds of years, gooseberries to cool the blood and elderflower to treat flu and rheumatism.

I also have discovered that witches congregate under the branches of fruit bearing elderflower trees. I'll let you know what I find next time I'm foraging in the hedgerows. Formore wondrous facts about the gooseberry and the great Northern tradition of gooseberry shows check out the Egton Bridge Gooseberry Society.

Away from the allotment I've been deep into bottling and labelling for the E17 Designers Spring Fairwhich is next Friday 17th May 7-10pm. After a successful event to help raise funds for the newly opened William Morris Gallery in Lloyd Park, E17 Designers makes a welcome return to its regular home in the heart of Walthamstow village: the AsianCentre on Orford Road. If you haven’t visited for awhile (and where have you been?), you are in for a treat with a dozen new designers on board this year. If you are a regular visitor, then you already know this is the borough’s hottest spotfor one night only – a great evening out, sociable shopping and service with a smile from E17 Designers.

Acoustic folk from The Coypus and ‘Flash’ belly dancing from Chloe

In honour of the mighty gooseberry I bring you the...


Gooseberry Martini 

100ml gin
50ml elderflower cordial
Crushed ice
2 tbsp stewed gooseberries, chilled

Throw the ingredients together into a cocktail shaker and shake until well-mixed and the ice has broken up. Then pour into a cocktail glass and garnish with flowers.