Plot to Plate
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Kiddy Cook will be starting a trial pick & cook session at Grappenhall Heys walled garden in Warrington, starting in October. The plot to plate activities will be set in the stunning refurbished glasshouses overlooking the Victorian Kitchen Garden which was originally part of the Parr family estate for over a century.
Picking your own fruit and vegetables is the best way to get the freshest and most delicious foods from field to fork and children get to see first hand how they are produced. By the beginning of June, the first English strawberries are ready. These are best eaten straight from the plant when they are still warm from the summer sun. And if you do manage to take any home with you, they’re great sprinkled with vanilla sugar and a big dollop of thick cream! Next come blackcurrants and redcurrants followed a week or two later by raspberries. Keep your eyes peeled too for tayberries and loganberries – large juicy relatives of the raspberry. They are not as well known but just as delicious.
What could be more fun? A trip to the supermarket where you can buy a couple of plastic punnets of under ripe strawberries that are all looks and no substance, or a bucket filled to the brim with fabulous fruit that you’ve picked yourself? And there are other advantages too - less packaging (great for those of us with a garden full of recycling bins), and fewer air miles.
And the fun goes on and on. Get your kids involved with preserving excess pickings with jams, chutneys and pickles. Cordials and fruit gins (for adults) are a delicious way of using up excess soft and stone fruit such as strawberries, raspberries, currants, and blackberries, whilst plums, damsons, apples, quinces and pears make fantastic fruit 'cheeses' - ideal for eating in the winter.
The PYO season usually runs from May to October, although farm shops stay open throughout the year. For details visit www.pickyourown.org.uk
Make the most of your fresh produce with this fantastic summer pudding
75g caster sugar
5 / 6 slices white bread
Gently heat 2lb mixed fruit (225g each of raspberries, strawberries, redcurrants and blackberries and 125g blackcurrants), together with 75g caster sugar and 3 tbsp water in a saucepan, until the sugar dissolves and the fruit juices start to run. Simmer for 2 minutes & then pour the juice into a flat dish, reserving the fruit. Cut one slice of bread into a circle small enough to fit the base of a 1.5l (48 fl oz) pudding basin, and another large enough to fit the top. Cut the remaining 4 slices into triangles. Dip both sides of the smaller circle of bread quickly into the juice and place it in the bottom of the pudding basin. Dip both sides of each triangle of bread into the juice, then line the inside of the basin with the juice-soaked bread, overlapping them slightly to make sure there are no gaps. Fill the bread-lined basin with berries, drizzle with any remaining juice and top with the larger circle of bread, trimming it to fit if necessary. Cover the top of the pudding with clingfilm, then place a saucer or small plate that just fits inside the rim of the basin on top. Press the plate in, then weigh it down with a heavy can or two. Place the basin in a shallow dish to catch any juice that might overflow, and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.
To serve, run a thin knife around the inside of the basin and invert the pudding on to a serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve accompanied with plenty of thick cream.