Gooseberry and Gin Sorbet

This story begins with me cruising along in the back of an Uber because I couldn’t even contemplate the idea of getting on the tube or a Roastmaster in this heat. For those of you who live outside London, we call the Routemaster buses ‘Roastmasters’ because when they re-designed them to look all curvy and swish no one thought about the experience of the people inside. What resulted is a weirdly proportioned vehicle in which none of the seats is even remotely comfortable but mainly ohmyactualgod the HEAT.

The windows don’t open and the air con doesn’t work so it’s like being a dog trapped inside a car in a desert. Here’s a headline that sums it up very nicely – “a┬ábus designed for people who never take buses” – with a photo of Twatty Mc Twatface himself hanging out the back (that’s Boris Johnson in case you can’t be arsed to click on the link). They’re now replacing the windows with versions that actually open, although they won’t be ready until September (that’s the end of the summer). Anyway.

So I was in the Uber, and I had the windows down because the car didn’t have any air-con, and I see my mate walking down the street so I raise my shades up like a total boss and holler, “alright mate?” to which he replied, “yeah… hot. You?” to which I replied, “yeah… hot.” This is the only conversation that anyone in London is having right now. If you’re not interested in talking about the heat first and foremost then you can jog on quite frankly (or maybe walk really slowly, dragging your feet and sweating).

There’s something really oppressive about the heat here, and I say that as someone who has been to Borneo and experienced 45C heat with 80% humidity. It’s just always right ON you, that sun, and it’s close and sticky and gooey and suffocating. I was walking along the street in West London the other day and a man coming the other way, sweating profusely, just looked up at the sun and shouted, “FUCKING HELL” then kept walking. That sums it up.

So, it’s ice cream and sorbet central around here. In the past week I’ve been through ice cream Bounty Bars (surprisingly light), most of the flavours in Snowflake Gelato, several of the flavours in Gelupo, a stunning Sicilian plum granita at Bernardi’s followed by an apricot semifreddo in the same meal and now this, a pink gooseberry sorbet with gin.
I’m not sure I’ve ever cooked with pink gooseberries before but they turned up in a box of gorgeous fruit and veg I was sent from New Covent Garden market – perks of the food writing biz. I think they’re sweeter than their traditional green counterparts but that could be some┬ámind-bending trickery to do with the colour, I dunno. Anyway, this sorbet is probably the best I’ve made. Better even than this pink grapefruit and gin sorbet I made last year. We managed to get the sugar just right, the flavour of the gooseberries is strong but you can also taste the gin, and just look at that colour!

I’ve actually just had the idea while sitting here of piling it into an insulated bottle flask thingamy and taking it onto the bus with me (probs just get another Uber).

Pink Gooseberry and Gin Sorbet

350g pink gooseberries, topped and tailed
100g caster sugar
1 egg white
100ml gin
120ml water

Put the gooseberries in a pan with the water and sugar and simmer for 5 minutes. Put the mixture in a blender and blend until smooth. If you want to remove any seeds and bits then put it through a sieve now.

Add the gin and allow the mixture to chill in the fridge (I put mine in the fridge overnight). Whisk the egg white to stiff peaks and mix it into the gooseberry mixture – it will look all weird but don’t worry about it.

Churn in an ice cream machine until frozen, then transfer to a tub and freeze for a couple of hours before serving. Yeah you could probably do it without an ice cream maker if you do the taking it out and stirring every hour thing.

Slow Gin

The only ‘hard work’ involved in making sloe gin is foraging those sloes. Most recipes also advise you to painstakingly prick each sloe with a pin to allow the juices to leach out in the bottle. Forget this. I recently ran into Sipsmith’s master distiller, Jared Brown who gave me an absolute blinder of a tip – put the sloes in the freezer before bottling. This way, their structure breaks down through the freezing process, eliminating the need to prick.

Now it is really just a case of chucking everything in a bottle.

Sloe Gin

(makes a 1 litre bottle)

Sloes are the fruit of the blackthorn bush and are best picked after the first frost, when they should be ripe.

500g sloes
Gin (I used Beefeater – not too simple or complex in flavour)
100g-150g caster sugar (I used 100g as I don’t like it too sweet but most recipes use 150g)

Once you’ve foraged your sloes, pick over and wash them thoroughly. You can be diligent and remove all little stalky bits if you like but as you can see I didn’t even bother doing that. Once frozen, sling the sloes into a clean 1 litre bottle. Funnel in the sugar and then cover with gin.

Turn the bottle daily for a week or two, then just turn it (upside down and back again) every week or so. You can drink it after about 2 months but 6 would be better (no-one ever waits that long). When ready to drink, strain the gin through muslin and re-bottle.