This morning I went to the local farmer's market full of eager anticipation for all the best of mid-summer's bounty. It was a trip well-rewarded. Apart from the typical lettuces, beans, peas, and potatoes, I also came away with raspberries, which are easily my favorite berry, and gooseberries, which I had never tried before.
I was not really sure what to do with the berries, so I enquired while paying and the lady serving was so kind as to give me a few suggestions. One was to pop them whole into the mouth like a blueberry, and the other was to make jam. She also instructed me to remove the stem end and the fuzzy little flower end before using them. I have never made jam, and today was not the day that I cared to undertake a first attempt. I tried to pop one whole into my mouth, expecting a burst of sweet juiciness. WOW... was I in for a shock. These pretty, little glossy berries are not sweet, and really not all that juicy. What they are is very sour, and quite like a black currant when you amp up the tart factor by about 100%. It seemed I would need to look for other ways to use these berries.
I enquired of a friend whether it was possibly to make them into a tart. She assured me that it was possible, and even kindly provided a couple recipes (which sorry, to say, I didn't use this time). Armed with the new knowledge though, I did a quick google search to see if it was possible to use the berries in my favorite free-form, one crust, gallette-style tart. It is possible.... with the addition of MUCH sugar.
Now, to go back quickly to something that I should have paid attention to while I was buying the berries... removing the stem and flower end of the berry is an incredibly tedious task, and one which I am not eager to undertake again anytime soon.
Added to the quart of berries that I purchases, I added roughly 1/4 cup white sugar and about 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. I used a standard sweet pastry crust, and loaded the berries in and folded up the sides. I sprinkled organic cane sugar over the crust for a lovely crunchy caramelization. Into the oven at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. As it turns out, the seemingly non-juicy berries become very juicy as they cook, and my pie runneth over. Keep a pan for beneath the baking pan to catch the juices.
Overall, the tart was really delicious, although we did have a few berries that were perhaps, a little under-ripe. These proved to be quite entertaining, as the unexpected tartness would elicit the best pucker face from husband.
Come to think of it, maybe I should also have paid more heed when the woman at the counter, congratulated me on my courage to try new things. There may have been a not so subtle warning there.