The shop at Hope Barton Barns

We’re busy, busy bees in the kitchen at the moment and it’s hot work I can tell you. Our newest customers, the holiday makers at Hope Barton Barns in the beautiful South Hams, are devouring my meals at an astonishing rate, so keeping their freezer fully stocked is a challenge. We’re proud to supply a number of Devon holiday complexes so, if you’re looking for a great place to stay, check out the following links:

Yesterday’s harvest

And, just when I didn’t need more jobs to do, the real bees have been busy too and done a brilliant job of pollinating the soft fruit in my garden. So I have a considerable daily harvest of soft fruit which has to be picked, sorted, washed and then cooked or stored.

And, after 3 years of waiting, I have my first (and bumper) crop of Loganberries (a cross between a raspberry and a blackberry).  I freeze the best fruit whole for future use, make some into compote for yogurty breakfasts and freeze the rest in a bag and these are destined to make a batch of jam.

Everyone says you should net soft fruit to stop the birds pinching all the fruit but I never have, partly because I’d probably make a tangled mess with the netting and partly because I like to think there’s enough for all of us (I do grow far more than we need). Anyhow, I enjoy watching the wild birds in the garden so I let them have their share which has worked so far. The blackbirds are the main culprits but luckily they like the gooseberries and I’m afraid to get too close to the bush because of the vicious thorns! I figure they can feast on those while I get the other fruit.

Loganberries – ready for freezing as whole fruits

This year we also let nature take over where our chickens had been kept (less grass cutting after all) and it turned into an unexpected but beautiful wild flower garden in May and June. We haven’t cut it yet as I spotted several Goldfinches, which are one of my favourite birds, nibbling on some of the seed heads. A good excuse for leaving it natural for a while longer!

Anyway back to human food, and I like to delve into my Sarah Raven and Nigel Slater books for inspiration when it comes to seasonal produce and Sarah’s Strawberry and Black Pepper Ice cream is  one of my favourite recipes for this time of year.  Top Tip: Unlike raspberies, strawberries don’t freeze well whole.   So, if I have lots of fruit but no time, I do a quick blitz of the strawberries in my food processor, leaving it chunky and then freeze in a plastic bag or tub.  You can then make your ice cream or jam when you do have the time.

Strawberry and Black Pepper Ice Cream – absolutely delicious and so easy!