gooseberry and elderflower custards and a bonus ice-cream

Our gooseberry bushes are so heavy with fruit this year that, although they’re still small, I couldn’t resist picking a bowl.


Sunshine has ripened our first strawberries of the year, savoured by Ruby with breakfast, and it’s also coaxing the elders into flowering.


You can tell it’s been warmer lately as the old station clock in our kitchen is getting slow; heat seems to affect the pendulum! I know how it feels, my evening gardening recently has been more pottering than enthusiastic digging. Lazy gardening in fact. And on the sunnier days my cooking follows a similar pattern.

Picking a few gooseberries and elderflower heads in the hazy sunshine is lovely and even I can manage a little slow stirring of custard. The other bonus of this pudding is that if you like, you can make several treat puds from one little bit of effort.

I cooked some gooseberries with elderflowers, made custard and served 1/3 of it in little bowls after dinner that evening.


Another 1/3 of the custard was kept in the fridge and the following day we had a spoon of greek yoghurt, a spoon of cold custard and a spoon of rhubarb and rose jampote (the ‘jampote’ is a Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall inspired jam-like compote) using a batch of my jam here with less sugar and reduced cooking. Cooked like this, the jam needs storing in the fridge, doesn’t keep as long but is soon scoffed anyway. And the remaining cooked gooseberries were mashed roughly with a fork and mixed with the leftover custard, then frozen for gooseberry and elderflower ice-cream.


 For the gooseberries and elderflower:

600g gooseberries, topped and tailed

100g caster sugar

A few elderflower heads

Put the gooseberries in a saucepan with a tablespoon of water and the sugar. Tie the elderflowers in a piece of muslin and add to the pan. If they’re not flowering by you yet, you can add a dash of elderflower cordial instead. Simmer for 5-10 mins, trying not to overcook as they’re lovely if you preserve their shape. Remove the elderflowers and chill the gooseberries.

For the custard:

350 ml double cream

350 ml whole milk

1 vanilla pod, split open lengthways ( a jar of vanilla sugar is handy to have in the kitchen for when you don’t happen to have vanilla pods)

6 large egg yolks (the egg whites are handy frozen for meringues another time)

140g caster sugar

1 heaped teaspoon cornflour

Put the cream, milk and vanilla pod in a saucepan and heat gently, then set aside to infuse. Beat together the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour in a bowl. Remove the vanilla pod from the milk and pour the hot creamy milk onto the egg mixture, whisking as you pour. Pour into a clean pan and heat gently, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens. Don’t overcook or let it boil, it’s creamy custard you’re after not scrambled egg. I’ve learnt from disappointing experience that this is a task not suited to multi-tasking, and now try my best to have music playing and just enjoy the relaxed stirring.

When thickened, leave the custard to cool and keep in the fridge. Or if the temperature of our very English summer drops, it’s lovely warm with the gooseberries. Otherwise, a little chilled bowl of gooseberries and elderflower with custard is a great pud for a summer evening that can be prepared beforehand. It seems a good way of persuading 5 year olds that gooseberries are something yummy and summery rather than green and ghastly too:


If you mix some of the custard and gooseberries and freeze for ice-cream, either add to an ice-cream maker before putting in the freezer or stir when you remember as it freezes to prevent crystals forming. Gooseberry and elderflower ice-cream is great with the Little Leon biscuits I made here too.

And those creamy umbels of elderflowers are also reminding me that I must remember to buy citric acid before the local chemist runs out, ready for replenishing the elderflower cordial supplies. I’m on my last bottle from last year (I freeze lots in plastic bottles so it lasts longer) and so pleased. It’s the first year I’ve made enough to last until the hedgerows are frothy with cordial potential once more!


22 thoughts on “gooseberry and elderflower custards and a bonus ice-cream

  1. That’s a lovely idea for gooseberries, a nice change from crumble! It’s lovely picking fruit again from the garden, nothing better than a sun warmed strawberry in the morning! I’m keeping an eye on the elder flowers too, Will is planning to make elder flower champagne as he developed a taste for it when some friends gave us a bottle last year! Must remember to leave some flowers to turn into berries for a winter tonic too.

  2. I made some elderflower champagne last year, was just wondering if it had actually worked and had any fizz, when a bottle exploded all over a corner of the kitchen! Best drink it before that happens this year I think.

  3. Anything with custard gets my vote – and the gorgeous sharpness of fresh gooseberries. How lucky to pick them fresh from the garden.

    • I agree on both counts. My daughter is a custard fan too – perhaps unsurprisingly it seems to encourage her in scoffing both gooseberries and rhubarb. All that tart fruit and rich custard, who could blame her!

  4. I’m not a great pudding lover, but you got me with the gooseberry and elderflower custards – how delicious :-)

  5. My kids always complain because I don’t make custard – it’s a bit mean, but I really can’t face eating it. But I could probably be persuaded to make some for them if it can be turned into ice cream too! Have you ever made gooseberry and elderflower jam? I was thinking of having a go at it this year, sounds like it should work…

    • I haven’t made gooseberry and elderflower jam yet, but funnily enough it was going through my mind today as I was looking at all the gooseberries – gooseberry jelly too I reckon. Was wondering if it would work with anjelica (which is currently HUGE)or sweet cicely in jelly too?

  6. I too couldn’t resist picking gooseberries last Friday. Love that first harvest. Looks like there’ll be a huge crop this year. Gooseberries and custard are so good together.

    • I know, I love tart fruit and rich custard. Depending on the weather I may have to make a good old fashioned gooseberry crumble and custard soon too. What else are you planning to do with your gooseberries?

  7. Andrea, that looks delicious! Can I just say, I’d love to have a clock that slows down when the weather gets warm.. :)

    • Thanks Celia and it would be fab if the time really did go slowly along with the clock! Such a lovely sunny morning & everything still so lush here, would like it to stay like this for a while.

  8. Ours are also full of fruit. Although they have flopped outwards from the middle. Apparently after they have fruited we are going to dig it up and plant a thorn-less variety for next year.

  9. What a great combination, I like that you got ice cream from it too.

  10. Gorgeous ice cream idea. I’m hoping to pick some elderflowers this week, so I can already feel the ice cream maker will be coming out the draw. Thanks!

    • I can feel the hedgerows luring me for a bit more elderflower picking too, so many more flowering daily. Happy ice-cream making!

  11. Elderflowers and gooseberries are a wonderful combination. Our gooseberries aren’t quite ready, but your custard and gooseberries will definitely be one to try when they’re ripe.
    If you put your elderflower champagne into old fizzy drinks bottle with pleated base, when they get close to blowing the pleats fill out so the bottle falls over and you just need to release some gas and stand them up again.

    • Elderflowers and gooseberries are lovely aren’t they, I reckon an elderflower pannacotta with gooseberries would be yummy too. Thanks for elderflower fizz tip.

  12. I really love your blog. Gooseberries are now so underrated, and sadly the chances of finding them in the supermarkets (amongst the imported strawberries, blueberries and raspberries) are becoming increasingly remote. By coincidence I’m currently working on a gooseberry and elderflower crumble ice cream which, if it works, I’ll be posting on my own blog in a couple of weeks’ time. It’s down to those of us who still grow gooseberries to show how delightful this fruit can be.

    • Thanks Steve and have just really enjoyed a read of your blog too. Totally agree about gooseberries, they’re one of my favourite fruits and so excited that it looks as if I’m going to be able to try them in lots of ways this year. Gooseberry crumble ice-cream sounds wonderful, will look out for it.


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