Gooseberries are high in vitamin C, but at 88% water are not considered to be particularly nutrititious. Their fibre content isn't bad however and they do claim some antioxidants, protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
Vegetable Origins & Varieties
Gooseberry: Ribes uva-crispa
Gooseberries are of course classed as a fruit and along with its close cousins the Currant family are true natives of Europe but with a range that also includes northwestern Africa and Southeast Asia.
The "goose" in "gooseberry" is probably a corruption of either the Dutch word kruisbes or the allied German Krausbeere, or of the earlier forms of the French groseille. It is also worth noting that the French for gooseberry is groseille à maquereau translated as 'mackerel berries', due to their use in a sauce for mackerel in old French cuisine – it’s still delicious today!
Gooseberries flower and set fruit early so are just right for the mackerel season that in the UK is usually taken to be spring and early summer.
Growers have recently been developing many brilliant new varieties beyond the old green hairy ones. ‘Invicta’ developed at the East Malling Research Station, produces an exceptional heavy yield of large, high quality green fruit or try the new red Martlet gooseberry – both mildew resistant.
Growing tips & Harvesting
Gooseberries grow naturally as a wide straggly bush with (as every gardener who has pruned them knows to their cost) very effective spines! Gooseberries are prone to American Mildew so should be grow ‘off’ the ground (pruned to leave an air gap beneath the lower branches and the ground) although a more effective way is to grow them as cordons against a fence. Always net the bushes as the berries develop - birds love them!
Storing & Preparation
Gooseberries can be stored for up to a week once harvested, kept in a fridge. The softer they are the sweeter and so better eaten raw.
To cook gooseberries for pies and crumbles stew them for 10-15 minutes. They can then be puréed for fools, ice cream or sauces.
My favourite Recipes
3tbsp caster sugar
200g Greek yoghurt
1-2tbsp icing sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
200ml double cream
Put the gooseberries and sugar in a pan with a little water. Heat gently, stirring, then bring to a simmer and cook until the fruit starts to burst. Squash the gooseberries with a potato masher or fork until pulpy. Cool then chill until cold in the fridge.
Put the yoghurt in a bowl and beat with the icing sugar and vanilla until smooth. Gently whisk in the cream. Ripple through the gooseberry & serve.
Gooseberries can be eaten on their own, but also work well in fools, crumbles and pies. They can be used to flavour drinks such as sodas, wines and teas. Preserving gooseberries as jam through drying, pickling and in sugar syrups is also popular. Here at the Skip Garden Kitchen we often decorate our super salads or cakes with cape goosberries from the poly-skip.