Where to plant gooseberries?

Photo by Hank Shaw

Ah, the gooseberry, an unloved berry if there ever was one — especially here in North America. We have nearly 100 varieties here, yet few people here even know they exist, let alone take to the woods in search of these beauties. Well, they do exist, and they are well worth your effort to hunt them up. Here’s what you need to know to gather ye gooseberries in style.

First you must find them.

Fortunately they grow pretty much everywhere on our continent, other than deserts… and there are even a few species that do thrive in arid regions. But in general, look for hills and mountains, cool(ish) climates and moisture. When you are in such a region, look for spiky shrubs: A hallmark of the gooseberry clan is that they almost always have thorns all over them, on the branches and even sometimes the berries themselves.

Then there is the leaf. The maple-like leaves of gooseberries and their cousins the currants are very similar across all species. Memorize the shape of this leaf and you will start seeing it everywhere.

Photo by Hank Shaw

All currants and gooseberries have leaves that pretty much look like this.

How to tell the difference between a currant and a gooseberry? The fruits of both are edible, although there are more species of currant with an unpleasant, mealy or tannic flavor than there are of gooseberries, which are universally tart and a little sweet. Gooseberries set flowers and fruit in a line underneath the branches. Currants flower and fruit in clusters at the end of branches. Here are the flowers:

Photo by Hank Shaw

And here are the unripe fruits of the Sierra gooseberry:

Photo by Hank Shaw

See the little “tail” on the bottom of the fruit? That’s the remnant of the flower, and it is another hallmark of the Ribes clan, which includes both currants and gooseberries. That little tail is perfectly edible, but you might want to remove it for fancy preparations.

Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Now by now you might have noticed that wild gooseberries — especially these Sierra gooseberries above — are not the friendliest of fruits. I mean look at them! Nasty, spiky, prickly things that will impale your hands without a second thought. You must pick them with gloves or suffer the consequences. At least the Rocky Mountain wild gooseberry pictured at the top of this post not quite so prickly.

Most of the gooseberries east of the Great Basin can be eaten off the bush, although they are very tart. But the Sierra gooseberry and its prickly cousin that lives along the Pacific Coast is a bit more challenging. Bottom line is you need to cook these. Cooking softens the spines and lets you get at the delicious pulp within, which tastes brightly acidic and a little sweet. The aroma is weirdly similar to like Sweet Tarts candy.

Photo by Holly A. Heyser

The best way I’ve found to eat the prickly wild gooseberries is to cook them with a little water, smash the berries and strain the resulting pulp. The juice makes an excellent sorbet or syrup to use in cold drinks. It will also make a wonderful jelly. The pulp left behind can, it is said, be used as a pie filling, although I’ve never done that.

If your gooseberries don’t look like little Sputnik satellites, you can just eat them.

Since they are so tart, I love them with some sugar or honey and something dairy. My favorite way to eat them is to stir together mascarpone cheese with dark wildflower honey until combined, then fold in the gooseberries. Damn good.

Here’s how to process the spiky kind:

5 from 1 vote

Gooseberry Syrup

I do this mostly with Sierra gooseberries, but you can use this method with any other gooseberries, too. Prep Time10 mins Cook Time25 mins Total Time35 mins Course: Drinks Cuisine: American Servings: 1 quart Author: Hank Shaw

Ingredients

  • 8 cups Sierra gooseberries, or 5 cups smaller gooseberries
  • Enough water to cover, about 1 quart

Instructions

  • Wash your berries well and put the Sierra gooseberries into a large pot. This seems like a lot, but they are large and very spiky, so they take up more space than other gooseberries. If you have regular gooseberries — wild or domestic — only use 5 to 6 cups. Barely cover the berries with water, cover the pot and bring to a boil.
  • Boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and, using a potato masher, crush the berries to a pulp. Do not use a blender, food processor or immersion blender! If you do, you will merely make the nasty spikes smaller and harder to remove later.
  • Let this steep, covered, until it gets to room temperature, then pour everything through a fine-meshed strainer into a container and let it sit overnight in the fridge. The sediment at the bottom will be tan, the juice varying degrees of red or purple — if you are using ripe gooseberries.
  • Strain again through a fine-meshed strainer with a piece of paper towel set inside. This will leave you with clear juice. This juice will store in the fridge for a week or so, as-is. Or you can heat the gooseberry juice with an equal volume of sugar and make gooseberry syrup. The syrup lasts months in the fridge. As for the sediment, taste it. If it is not too gritty, you can mix it with a thickener like tapioca and make it into a pie filling.

Notes

Note that prep time does not include steeping time.

More Gooseberry Recipes

You can find more gooseberry recipes, as well as recipes for all kinds of other wild fruits, right here on Hunter Angler Gardener Cook.

Wild Gooseberries and Currants

You really shouldn’t have much trouble foraging for wild gooseberries and currants and identifying a bush that’s either a gooseberry or a currant . . . since their basic family features are quite distinctive and set them apart from other broad botanic groups. I should point out, however, that distinguishing one berry from the other can be a different matter altogether.

Many people, for example, will tell you that currants are smooth round fruits, while gooseberries have prickles or spines. Well, that rule of thumb is true in most cases . . . but it’s also broken by several species within each subgroup. Then again, lots of folks are under the impression that gooseberries are most often green, while currants are red or black . . . but the truth of the matter is that green fruit — of either type — is often simply underripe (some cooks use the immature berries in preserves for their extra tartness).

Actually, fully mature Ribes fruits vary widely — depending on their species — in both color (red, gold, black, orange, or pale yellow-green) and taste (from very sour to almost sugar-sweet). Furthermore, all have more or less conspicuous vertical stripes, and — in the field — a withered flower tube hanging from the bottom of each little orb.

You can often tell the cousins apart, though, by the manner in which the flowers (they can be pink, salmon, gold, white, yellow, or dark red) and their resulting fruits grow on the plants: Currants generally occur in clusters of five or more on a fairly long stalk (the blooms may be bell-shaped, or saucer-like, resembling small blackberry blossoms). Gooseberries, on the other hand, are usually in groups of two or three (and almost never more than five) on a relatively short stalk . . . and their flowers, which are trumpet-like with protruding stamens, remind one of miniature fuchsia blossoms.

You’ll be able to locate other distinguishing characteristics by studying a Ribes shrub’s branches: Gee-berry bushes are usually thorny to some degree — frequently to the chagrin of hikers and backpackers — whereas the stems of only a very few varieties of currants are spiked (although some do have soft hairs). Also, if the specimen you’re examining exudes a skunk-like odor (you’ll sometimes have to break a twig or rub a leaf to release the smell), you’re almost surely looking at a currant bush . . . although a plant that doesn’t give off the aroma might belong to either group.

In any case, currants and gooseberries are pretty much interchangeable in recipes . . . and if you have a hankering to try them, now’s the time to go a-gathering. The flowers of both types bloom during May and June, and set fruit — beginning in July — that ripens through August and September. Some varieties — such as Ribes montigenum, the pale red gooseberry native to California’s Sierra mountains — hold their fruit for many months and yield sun-shriveled, raisin-like morsels of sweetness even in the dead of winter. In most parts of the country, though, early fall is the time to head for the hills and fields with your berrying buckets. If you wait too long, the fruit may become worm-infested, or simply rot.

So gather ye berries while ye may . . . then hurry on back to the kitchen (or campfire, as the case may be) for some great eating.

WILD GOOSEBERRIES AND CURRANTS RECIPES!

Let’s say that you’ve foraged yourself a fine batch of fruit . . . and that you’ve absolutely, positively identified the harvest as palatable gooseberries or currants . . . and that you’ve removed all the stems and dried flower tubes (any spikes on the orbs will cook down) . . . and — finally — that you’ve taken time to wash your find thoroughly.

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Now, if you happen to be a hungry back-packer with only a few basic on-the-trail ingredients to use, you might want to try one of the next three treats.

APPLES MOUNT BANNER RECIPE

Mash the ripe gooseberries or currants in a pan, add dried apple slices or bits, and stew the fruits together with sweetener to taste . . . plus a little water if necessary. You’ll produce a tangy concoction that is far superior to plain old run-of-the-mill applesauce!

BERRY PANCAKES RECIPE

Add 1/3 to 1/2 cup of fresh gooseberries or currants to any pancake batter (whether it’s “scratch” or made from a mix). Cook the flapjacks slowly — turning each one once — on a hot, greased griddle . . . and serve them with butter and brown sugar, honey, or syrup.

BERRY SYRUP RECIPE

Combine 1 cup of gooseberries or currants, 1/3 cup of honey, and about 1/4 cup of water. Crush the fruit with the back of a spoon to release the juice, and then boil the mixture for about 10 minutes or until the liquid has reached a syrupy consistency. (Gooseberries and currants are rich in pectin and generally need no additional thickener.) Serve the topping with pancakes, fritters, or muffins. (If you’d prefer a tarter, cranberry-like sauce, use less sweetener . . . and serve the condiment with poultry or other meat.)

When you’re at home and have more time — and a kitchen’s worth of ingredients and implements at your disposal — you may want to try some of these dishes.

DANISH-STYLE RED CABBAGE AND GOOSEBERRIES

Melt 3 tablespoons of butter or margarine in a heavy pan. Add 1 red cabbage, shredded fine, plus 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves. Then stir in 1 cup of gooseberry syrup (see the foregoing recipe). Cover the pot and cook the mixture very slowly (over low heat) for about 3 hours, stirring it frequently and adding more syrup whenever the liquid simmers almost completely away (this will probably happen several times during the lengthy process). Bring this unusual dish to the table piping hot.

BERRY APPLE CRISP RECIPE

Combine 1 cup of gooseberries or currants and 2 medium-sized apples, sliced, in a greased baking dish. Sprinkle the mixture with a smattering of cinnamon, and pour 1/4 cup of water over the entire concoction. Then, in a separate bowl, combine 1/2 cup of flour, 1/3 cup of dried milk, 1/4 cup of honey, and 1/4 cup of margarine . . . and distribute this crumbly blend evenly over the apples and berries. Bake the dessert at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 45 minutes, or until the fruit is done and the crusty top is lightly browned.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, I proudly present the definitive Ribes pièce de résistance:

DOUBLE-CRUSTED GOOSEBERRY PIE RECIPE

Filling: Combine 4 cups of fresh gooseberries, 1/2 to 2/3 cup of honey, and 4 tablespoons of whole wheat flour.

Crust: Mix together 1-1/2 cups of whole wheat flour, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 cup of dried milk, and 1/2 cup of wheat germ. Then work 2/3 cup of margarine into the ingredients, add 1/4 cup of cold water, and form the well-blended pastry into a ball. Now, divide the sphere in two, and — on a floured towel or piece of waxed paper — roll half the dough into a circle. When that’s done, invert a pie-pan over the rolled-out disk and — handling the pie shell as little as possible — turn the pastry into the dish.

Assembly: Pour the gooseberry filling into the crust-lined pan and dot it with 1 tablespoon of butter or margarine. Roll the other half of the dough out to match the first, and lift or turn the pastry over the fruit mixture. Then press the edges of the two crusts together, flute the circumference with a fork, make two or three slashes in the top, and sprinkle the surface with sugar or brush on a coating of beaten egg. Finally, bake the pie in a preheated 350 degrees Fahrenheit oven for 30 to 45 minutes or until the fruit is cooked very soft and the filling bubbles.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Although nearly all species of gooseberries and currants can be consumed (a few are only tolerable-tasting, but most are downright delicious, especially when cooked), at least one member of the family is reportedly not edible: Ribes viscosissimum — which is sometimes known as sticky currant because of the tacky substance on its branches and on its sparse, soft-bristled, bluish black fruit — is said to cause violent vomiting shortly after ingestion. The somewhat straggly thornless plant is found primarily on east facing slopes of the Cascade Mountains from British Columbia through Washington and Oregon . . . in northwest and Sierran California and northern Arizona . . . and in Montana, western Wyoming, and northwest Colorado. Its flowers are greenish yellow or greenish white, and are sometimes markedly tinged with pink or purple.

As always, we strongly recommend that you absolutely identify the species of any wild food you forage before popping a piece into your mouth or trying even a small “test” tidbit. Your local USDA extension service, and/or the botany department of any college or university, can often help you label any given plant.

Also, an excellent aid in finding and naming many native comestibles is Feasting Free on Wild Edibles by Bradford Angier (Stackpole, $8.95). This book can be purchased from many good bookstores or — for its listed price plus 95 cents shipping and handling — from MOTHER’s Bookshelf ® , Hendersonville, North Carolina.

Gooseberry

Gooseberry, fruit bush of the Northern Hemisphere, frequently placed in the genus Ribes, along with the currant, in the family Grossulariaceae; some taxonomic systems assign exclusively to the gooseberry the generic name Grossularia. Gooseberry bushes are spiny and produce greenish to greenish pink flowers in clusters of two or three. The oval berries are white, red, yellow, or green with a prickly, hairy, or smooth surface.

Gooseberry (Ribes)Derek Fell

Gooseberries are extremely hardy and are grown almost as far north as the Arctic Circle. They thrive in moist, heavy clay soil in cool, humid climate. Good foliage is needed to protect the berries from the Sun. The gooseberry can withstand neglect but responds readily to good care, including potash or manure fertilizer, heavy pruning, and dormant spray to control scale and mildew. New plants are grown from cuttings.

The bushes bear well for 10 to 20 years. Two- to three-year-old spurs produce the best berries. The tart fruit is eaten ripe and often made into jellies, preserves, pies, and other desserts or wine. Hundreds of varieties are grown in northern Europe, many interplanted in fruit orchards. English gooseberries (R. uva-crispa), popularly called grossularia, are native to the Old World and have long been cultivated for fruit. In Europe the large-fruited cultivated gooseberries became naturalized. Grossularia do not prosper in the United States, because they are susceptible to mildews and rusts. Because they provide an alternate host for the white-pine blister rust, it is illegal to grow grossularia in some states where white pine is an important resource. The most useful native North American species is the smooth gooseberry Ribes hirtellum, found wild across the United States; improved varieties are widely cultivated.

9 Marvelous Health Benefits of Cape Gooseberries (Rasbharies)

Cape gooseberries, more commonly known as Rasbhari in India, is a small orange berry fruit. It has various names like golden berries, inca berry and ground berries. They are usually grown in warm regions like South Africa, South America, Central America, India and China. Its tarty taste has many admirers who can’t wait for the arrival of this seasonal fruit. The fruit is named as Cape gooseberry because it is first cultivated in Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. It is known as Peruvian ground cherry, Peruvian cherry, golden berry, Chinese lantern and Inca berry in different parts of the country. You can have them fresh as a healthy snack and also use them as a topping for desserts or in puddings. Did you know that cape gooseberries apparently contain more antioxidants than broccoli, apples, and pomegranates?

If you didn’t, here’s a list of some wonderful health benefits of eating cape gooseberries.
1. Store house of Vitamin C and antioxidants
Cape gooseberries have abundant Vitamin C much more than lemons! Not only is Vitamin C good for your skin, but it also helps in boosting your immunity. It is said that it fulfills 18 percent of requirements of vitamin C, further helping in enhancing immunity.
(Also read: 4 foods That Boost Your Immunity)

health benefits of cape gooseberries:Cape gooseberries have abundant vitamin C

2. Good for your eyes
Apart from Vitamin C, cape gooseberries are also rich in Vitamin A which improves eyesight, and immunity. Cape gooseberries are rich in iron too which further boosts your vision. It provides 14 percent of daily requirement of vitamin A, which is good for eyes, prevents cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.

Health benefits of cape gooseberries: Apart from Vitamin C, cape gooseberries are also rich in vitamin A

3. Controls high blood pressure
Due to the presence of phyto-chemicals such as polyphenols and carotenoids, cape gooseberries can regulate high blood pressure levels. These chemicals along with the soluble pectin fibre keep bad cholesterol levels in check and promote heart health.
(Also read: Control High Blood Pressure With These 5 Everyday Foods)

Health benefits of cape gooseberries: cape gooseberries can regulate high blood pressure levels

4. Bone strength
Being high in calcium and phosphorous, these berries help in making your bones stronger. It also has a good proportion of pectin that helps in calcium and phosphorus absorption, thereby, making bones stronger and manage conditions like rheumatism and dermatitis.

Health benefits of cape gooseberries: these berries help in making your bones stronger

5. Can control diabetes
Cape gooseberries contain immense soluble fibre like fructose which can prove beneficial for diabetic patients. These berries can help lower the blood sugar levels. If you are a diabetic, make you consult a diabetologist to ensure it doesn’t affect your blood sugar levels.

Health benefits of cape gooseberries: Cape gooseberries contain immense soluble fibre like fructose

6. Promotes weight Loss
Low in fat and calories, a handful of cape gooseberries make for a great snack or a meal filler to support your weight loss goals. Toss them in a bowlful of fruit salads or veggie salads to make the most of them.
(Also read: What to Eat and Avoid for Weight Loss)

Health benefits of cape gooseberries: Low in fat and calories, a handful of cape gooseberries make for a great snack

7. Eases digestion
Once again, fibre plays an important role in managing your digestive processes. Fibre-rich cape gooseberries are great to add to your diet. Moreover, the pectin fibre it contains helps calm the disturbed gastro-intestinal (GI) tract, prevents constipation and also serves as a great laxative.
(Also read: 5 Fiber-Rich Foods You Must Have Everyday)

Health benefits of cape gooseberries: Once again, fibre plays an important role in managing your digestive processes

8. Anti-Inflammatory properties
Cape gooseberries are rich in anthocyanins which prevents inflammation caused by pain, swelling, and redness. Also, due to the presence of polyphenols and other antioxidants, these berries may help in treating disorders like asthma which is basically the inflammation of tracheal passage.
(Also read: 7 Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods You Must Add to Your Diet)

Health benefits of cape gooseberries: Cape gooseberries are rich in anthocyanins which prevents inflammation

9. Fights cold and flu
Antioxidant-rich cape gooseberries can protect you against common cold and flu attacks. Consume them with tea or hot water at least twice a day. It will soothe your clogged nasal passage and you will begin to feel much more relaxed.
(Also read: 5 Magical Home Remedies for Cold You Probably Haven’t Tried Yet​)

Health benefits of cape gooseberry: Antioxidant-rich cape gooseberries can protect you

Cape gooseberries may boast of a host of health benefits, however, one must observe caution while consuming these delicious berries. Unripe cape gooseberries can contain alkaloids which may cause allergic reactions.

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About Sushmita SenguptaSharing a strong penchant for food, Sushmita loves all things good, cheesy and greasy. Her other favourite pastime activities other than discussing food includes, reading, watching movies and binge-watching TV shows.

Introduction

There are two types of gooseberry plants: American (Ribes hirtellum) and European (Ribes uva-crispa). Fruit from the American cultivars are smaller, but are more resistant to mildew. The American cultivars are also usually healthier and more productive than the European cultivars. European cultivars tend to have larger fruit and are said to be more flavorful (Cornell University, 2015). American gooseberries are native to northeastern and north-central United States and the adjacent regions of Canada. European gooseberries are native to the Caucasus Mountains and North Africa (CRFG, 1996).

Gooseberries are often similar in size and flavor to grapes (Barney and Fallahi, 2009). The skin of gooseberry fruit is translucent, and, depending on the cultivar, their color can be white, yellow, green, or red (Tepe & Hoover, 2015) (University of Idaho, 2016).

Many fruits use the common name “gooseberry.” However these other fruits are distinctly different from the ones discussed in this profile. The most common fruits that have a similar name are: Cape gooseberry (Physalis peruviana), Chinese gooseberry (also known as Kiwi) (Actinidia spp.), and Indian gooseberry (Phyllanthus emblica) (Blackstone, n.d.). For this reason it is important to know and use scientific names.

Marketing Channels

Many publications caution that producers should secure the market before establishing “minor” fruit crops such as gooseberries. (Bratsch & Williams, 2009) (University of Kentucky, 2012). However, gooseberries are considered a “specialty” crop and can be a very rewarding commodity to produce (University of Kentucky, 2012). The marketing season for fresh gooseberries is from the beginning of June up until early August, but most varieties will not produce fruit for that entire timeframe (Bratsch & Williams, 2009) (Eat The Seasons, 2012).

Gooseberries have a high potential for fresh market sales for a few different reasons: gooseberries are said to be the most shelf-stable berry handled commercially (McKay, 2006); and they are also very aesthetically pleasing and therefore lend themselves well to farmers’ markets and grocery store displays. Some customers might be reluctant to purchase a fruit they’re not familiar with, so having free literature describing the fruit and its uses can be helpful (Ames & Greer, 2010).
One way to add value to fresh gooseberries could be starting a U-pick operation. On a U-pick farm, customers harvest the produce themselves. This can allow the farm to save on labor costs during harvesting. Often U-pick operations will supply a farm stand with already picked product for people who do not have the time, ability or want to pick their own product (University of Tennessee – Extension, 2014). If you decide to offer a U-pick operation, make sure to take advantage of free advertisement through sites such as pickyourown.org, which provides listings of local farms providing U-pick services.
Another way to add value to gooseberries is to process them. Gooseberries keep well if frozen, and they have been processed into many different products including, but not limited to jams and jellies; fresh juice products; wine; and even yogurt (Bratsch & Williams, 2009) (Dinstel, 2013).

A 2012 article written by the University of Kentucky estimated the price for fresh gooseberries at $3.60 per pound (University of Kentucky, 2012). Oregon Specialty Fruit Company sells eight 15-ounce cans of green gooseberries through Amazon at the price of $32.44; and Northwest Wild Foods sells frozen gooseberries (red and green) at $34.99 per three pounds (Northwest Wild Foods, 2015) (Oregon Specialty Fruit, 2016).

Production

In the early 1800s a “gooseberry craze” was prominent in Europe, with the trend extending to the United States around the same time (mostly in the northeastern United States) (Purcell and Ridge, 2013) (Cornell University, 2015). By the early 1900s, New York was growing approximately 2,700 acres of the fruit. Unfortunately, also in the early 1900s, the growing of gooseberry and related currants became federally banned because of a fungal disease called white pine blister rust, a deadly disease for all species of white pines (which includes the ancient bristlecone pines). The fungal disease requires two hosts to complete its life cycle: white pine and most commonly Ribes ssp. (Cornell University, 2015) (USDA, Forest Service, n.d.). The damage from the fungal disease is minimal to gooseberries and currants, but most often leads to tree mortality in white pines (USDA, Forest Service – Brochure, n.d.).

In 1966, the federal ban was shifted onto individual state jurisdiction, and most states (except some northern states) once again allowed the production of gooseberries and currents (USDA, Forest Service, n.d.). Currently, some states still ban all Ribes species, or enforce a permit system for the production of Ribes, while others only ban Ribes species that are not resistant to white pine blister rust. Check with your local extension office to see what regulations might be in your state or region (TheGreenerGrassFarm.com, 2015).

Gooseberries grow best in areas with humid summers and cold winters with adequate chilling hours (800-1,000 hours between 32 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit) (CRFG, 1996) (Raintree Nursery, 2015). In California gooseberries grow rather well in the cooler areas of the San Francisco Bay Area as well as the outer Coast Ranges and coastal northern California. Due to its dry summer heat, gooseberries do not do well in Southern California unless grown in higher elevations. Currently there is no data on the viability of gooseberries grown in a greenhouse operation, but gooseberries can be container grown with appropriate care (CRFG, 1996).

Properly managed gooseberry plants can produce fruit up to 15 years, and on average produce six pounds of fruit per plant (University of Kentucky, 2012).

Exports/Imports/United States Consumption

Since gooseberry is a re-emerging fruit crop, there is currently no United States export, import, or per capita consumption data available.

Management

Pruning is one of the most important management practices when growing gooseberries. Pruning keeps the canopy of the plant open, thus allowing good air circulation, helping to prevent certain diseases such as powdery mildew. Pruning also helps keep the plant productive with fruit growth. Species of Ribe produce fruit at the base of one-year-old wood, and most fruit production come from spurs that are two and three years old (Cornell University, 2015). All cultivars of gooseberries have some degree of thorns, and for this reason pruning also helps with ease of harvesting, which in the United States is done by hand (Bratsch & Williams, 2009).

Financial

According to a paper published in HortTechnology, “Planting and establishment practices for currants and gooseberries are similar to those for blueberries. Fewer nurseries carry commercial quantities of Ribes, however, and the cost of planting stock can be higher per unit than for blueberries” (Barney, 2000).

Sources

Links checked October 2018.

Gooseberry? Who ever heard of a Gooseberry?

At GoFresh, we can get all sorts of interesting produce from all around the world. Most recently the happy surprise was Gooseberries.

I remember hearing about gooseberries, maybe from a childhood storybook, but I did not realize that they were real. They sound like something from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory to me.

“Gooseberries, who ever heard of gooseberries”

Now that we both have, let’s learn some more reality than just pure imagination.

Why do they call them gooseberries? If their leaves were goose feather like soft, that would be neat but I doubt that is the case. Wikipedia suggest that it could be because the French word for “gooseberry is groseille à maquereau translated as ‘mackerel berries’, due to their use in a sauce for mackerel in old French cuisine.” Who knew that these berries were so fancy!

Where did these berries come from? Where are they grown? The writers at Food Facts say that the “small and firm but sometimes ribbed and translucent, gooseberries are a unique little plant-based food growing on relatively small, thorny bushes. Although their history is rooted in Europe, gooseberries were cultivated in Asia and Africa before the British began developing new varieties in at least the sixteenth century. There are now around 2,000 cultivars and two main gooseberry types: American and European (Ribes uva-crispa), which are larger and said to be tastier. They’re from the same botanical family as currants, and grow wild and prolific in places like North America and Siberia. Interestingly, this one berry comes in varying shades of yellow, green, red, or black, and can be round, oval, pear-shaped, or elongated. There can be tart and sweet berries on one bush, each containing a plethora of miniscule, edible seeds. Gooseberries thrive in changing seasons involving frigid winters and humid summers, and they’re more shade-tolerant than other fruits. The Indian gooseberry (Emblica officinalis, or amla) is light green and extremely bitter. The Cape gooseberry – sometimes called a Peruvian cherry – is yellow-orange and surrounded by a paper-thin husk that falls off as it dries. In the U.S., fresh gooseberries are usually ripe for the picking around July; red berries are generally sweeter.” YES! Just in time for summer pies. YUM!

I also learned that gooseberries have almost 20 times the vitamin C that is contained in oranges and don’t lose any of it in the cooking process. Thanks Food Facts!

I know that I can eat them raw but what else can I do with gooseberries? Susan Chen from PopSugar.com gives these pointers.
“Because of their tart character, they’re best when cooked down with sugar to make cobblers, crumbles, pies, tarts, and jams. Before cooking with them, be sure to pull or cut off the stems and tails attached on both ends. Here were a few creative uses I came across:
-Pair gooseberries with our berry du jour, blueberries, to make a fine jam.
-Fashion a creamy, sour curd with under-ripe green gooseberries instead of lemons.
-If you’ve had enough of blueberry pie, then make a gooseberry adaptation instead.
-Prepare the gooseberry fool, a classic English whipped cream dessert.
-Simmer with sugar and an elderflower cordial to make a relish perfect for pairing with pork roast.”

Hayley Sugg at Cooking Light says that “Red gooseberries are ripe and sweet, but still carry a sour note. They are great in mixed berry dishes like jams or pies. These gooseberries can also be used to replace rhubarb in most baking recipes. Green gooseberries are less ripe and more tart. Skip the Granny Smith apples in your next pie and replace them with these berries. Or go savory by adding finely-diced and sautéed green gooseberries to a batch of relish.”

From what has been mentioned, here are some other recipes we both can try as we experiment with this new fun berry, that is slightly fuzzy, but does not honk.

–Gooseberry Refrigerator Jam
–Old Fashioned Gooseberry Pie

Eat, Live, GoFresh!

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