Desire, Fulfilment and Surfeit


When you grow and eat your own fruit and vegetables, the natural progression through nurture, harvest and glut in the garden is matched by desire, fulfilment and surfeit in the kitchen.

raspberries ripening

Take our autumn-fruiting raspberries. The canes are cut back to ground level in winter and then we watch as they grow tall and leafy though spring and summer. White flowers appear and the tiny fruits swell and slowly change colour until, at last, in the heat of a summer day we spot a flash of crimson amongst the green foliage and triumphantly pick the first raspberry of the season.

For the first few days, we barely pick enough to fill a small dish but soon there’s raspberries galore. We eat them every day for pudding, sprinkle them on our breakfast and drop them into cocktails. Then one day I hear a sigh around the table as I plonk down another bowl of raspberries, so I scour my recipes for different ways to use them. Raspberries are added to cakes with gay abandon and we eat Lemon Surprise Pudding (the surprise being it’s Raspberry Pudding not Lemon). Visitors are pressed to take a container filled with raspberries home with them.

With raspberries still ripening thick and fast outside, it’s time to start preserving. A few raspberries are frozen, a couple of bottles of Raspberry Cordial are stored away and I make raspberry jam, though not in vast quantities as we barely eat a jar of jam a month.

raspberry vinegar

Last of all, I make a few bottles of Raspberry Vinegar. The original recipe I followed was sweet, perhaps because they suggested serving it over ice cream or diluting it with lemonade or soda water. But, guess what. I never drizzle it over vanilla ice cream and I don’t enjoy it diluted with lemonade, so over the years, I’ve reduced the sugar.

Raspberry Vinegar is supremely easy to make. Roughly crush about 500g of raspberries in a glass jar (I use my spurtle to crush), tip in 500ml of white wine vinegar, give it a stir and leave for two or three days. Sieve out the raspberry grunge and put the bright red vinegar into a saucepan with 100g of granulated sugar. Bring to the boil, simmer for ten minutes, skim off any scum and leave to cool a little. Pour into sterilised bottles and store somewhere cool and dark.

bacon salad recipe

Raspberry Vinegar seems such a throwback to the 1980s that I often feel the need to partner it with a suitably retro recipe like bacon salad. Otherwise, use it for dressings and marinades or to add a bit of oomph to casseroles. Dilute it with a little hot water to ease a sore throat; it’s eye watering but at least you momentarily forget how sore your throat was before. Drizzle over ice cream, if that’s your thing.

But, I digress. When we cannot face another bowl of raspberries and I’ve preserved all that I need, I pick the remaining raspberries in the garden and hand them over to Beth so that she can make them into Raspberry Gin, which is the very best way of preserving raspberries.

As the raspberries near the end of fruiting, do I miss them? No, of course not. I’ve been watching the greengages ripen and for the past few days, every time I’ve walked past the tree I’ve snatched a handful of those yellow green orbs of ambrosial deliciousness. Surely I could never tire of such a treat …



28 thoughts on “Desire, Fulfilment and Surfeit

  1. I have such lovely memories of picking raspberries as a child–and now simply don’t have room for the canes in my garden. So glad you can get glutted!

  2. We live in Sydney so no raspberries grow here but daughter lives in Ontario so we pick and feast on raspberries whenever we visit in August.Cannot get enough of them! Lots of raspberry muffins and caramelised, raspberry balsamic vinegar which is equally good on ice cream or salad.

    1. Oh, what a shame the canes didn’t thrive. On the plus side, you’ve got plenty of aubergines in your garden, which I can only grow (with difficulty) in a greenhouse.

  3. So beautiful Anne. Raspberries are very expensive to buy here (at the supermarket) and they are often damaged or soft in their little plastic punnet. They feel very indulgent, your glut looks delicious!

    1. Raspberries are very expensive in our supermarkets too and a chilled days old raspberry never compares with a sun kissed one from the garden. It’s a glut to enjoy (unlike the courgettes/marrows stealthily growing in the garden).

  4. I don’t think we have as many raspberries as you, but we do have plenty in season (still on the few a day season at the moment). I freeze lots – especially when there are only a few, and then over the winter, they are a delightful memento of summer 🙂

  5. [D] Delightful, Anne! I’ve snaffled the recipes to try them out when we do get to grow raspberries successfully. After 15yrs here in Uist, we’ve yet to get more than a few unwilling canes to grow, and never fruit. We tell ourselves we’ve got them in the wrong position, and then having moved them, the next year was not favourable … But then we have gooseberries and blackcurrants in abundance. Tioraidh an drasd’!

    1. Hope you get the chance to use the recipes one day. A section of our raspberries mysteriously died back this year – just when we thought we’d got them in the right place.

  6. We are still enjoying our raspberries – I’ve frozen many and we’ve eaten many. Yet to make jam; that’s next. Our greengage only yielded 4 fruit this year, sadly. I ate one earlier and savoured each delicious drop! I’ve yet to try raspberry gin and that’s probably a good thing as I suspect I’d like it a lot 🙂

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