Last year I wrote a Sunday Telegraph column about how my Autumn Bliss raspberries tasted really disappointing – ‘like diluted fruit squash wrapped in cellulose’ – prompting a Mr Chris Stephens to email in defence of their taste, adding, incidentally, that ‘Your description of the 2007 as “the great raspberry washout” is way over the top and typical of today’s media’. Obviously, he’s right about the last bit (I rather like being ‘typical of today’s media’, as though talking about my raspberries is akin to exaggerating global warming), but it turns out he might be right about the taste too.
So there I’d been kicking along thinking home-grown British strawberries, raspberries and blueberries weren’t quite as sweet as those you could buy in the shops, and it turns out there was a simple explanation. I’ve been picking them too soon.
My partner has been wise to this habit for some time, barricading the secateurs in a locked box and clutching the salad spinner at my approach as if it were a small child in the encroaching shadow of a military tank. But I just can’t help myself. Even after five years of this growing your own lark, I get so excited that anything’s actually grown (which to be fair, it rarely has) that I snip any fruit off the minute it turns from green to… any colour at all.
Thwarted in my hasty culling by the fact I’ve been hundreds of miles away on holiday for the past two weeks, the raspberries and blueberries had actually been allowed to ripen properly. And, a revelation, it turns out they’re absolutely blooming amazingly sweet and fantastic. Very probably the finest thing man has ever eaten. It’s the great raspberry and blueberry bonanza of 2008!! And obviously I would never exaggerate.