Fruit of the Week, Gooseberries


Fruit is in general is a fleshy seed, a connected part of a specific plant; it is natural and for the most part safe to eat and when raw is usually quite sweet. On the whole each and every one of us will be partial to fruit, though there will be those who don’t like fruit. Fruit is also healthy and is something which has equally in content, taste, and nutrients.

Anyway enough of all that let’s get to the Fruit of the week! Gooseberries

The Great British climate is particularly supportive to producing faultless gooseberries, juicy, tart, and full-flavoured furthermore over the years; they have captured the hearts of Britons more than any other nationality.

Of late, however, the status of gooseberries has decreased to some extent and their distinctive qualities don’t seem to be appreciated as much as they deserve.

Maureen and I think they’re due for a resurgence.

The gooseberry season starts in June and runs through to July although these days that may be extended by about 3 weeks.

At first we see the recognizable green gooseberries these are the best ones to use for cooking. Use them to make a luscious gooseberry fool or poach them with a little sugar and water to make a time-honoured addition to mackerel, or make my favourite Gooseberry Crumble.

Later on in the season we get the dessert gooseberries these are sweet enough to be eaten raw they are superb in fruit salads.

Did you know that Gooseberries produce fruits in a variety of colours including green, white and red depending on the variety and it’s not uncommon for bushes to crop for at least twenty years?

One very old belief tells how fairies would take refuge from danger in the prickly bushes and this is how gooseberries became known as fayberries.

Native to the cooler areas of Europe and western Asia, gooseberries were first grown in the British Isles in the 16th century at that time they were used medicinally and recommended to victims of the plague.

The popularity of the Gooseberry achieved its peak 19th century Britain when gooseberry wines, pies, and puddings were everyday.

Best British Season Is;

June to August

Buying Gooseberries

  • The gooseberries usually used for cooking are available early in the season, just look for firm unspoiled Gooseberries.
  • Later season dessert gooseberries which are often red, yellow, or golden coloured are much sweeter and can be eaten raw, opt for those with a plump, grape like consistency.

Storing Gooseberries

  • Firm cooking gooseberries will keep unwashed in the fridge for around 2 weeks.
  • Gooseberries freeze very well, which is handy given their brief season and the fact they can be hard to find.
  • Buy or pick sufficient and freeze them on a tray then keep in freezer bags, so you can take hold of a handful at any time you want them.
  • The softer dessert gooseberries are less robust, keep them in the fridge, and aim to eat them within two or three days.

Preparing and Cooking Gooseberries

  • Use gooseberries as you would other tart ingredients they work with fatty meats like pork, and are lovely in an old-fashioned crumble or pie.
  • Peel away the husk (if there) and rinse under cold running, pat them dry then top and tail them with scissors.
  • Gooseberries can differ quite a bit in sharpness; so be ready to alter the amount of sugar specified in any recipe you are using.
  • The classic Gooseberry Fool recipe has its origin in Tudor times.
  • Early season Gooseberries can be speedily stewed in a saucepan with some sugar, allow them to cool, then fold through whipped cream or fromage frais for a quick and easy Gooseberry Fool.
  • Stewed gooseberries are a classic accompaniment to mackerel, which is also abundant at this time of year, the acidity of the gooseberry cuts brilliantly against the rich, oily fish, see my recipe here on My Dish;

Baked Mackerel with Gooseberry Sauce, This delicious summer dish (available all year round, if you use frozen gooseberry purée) offers an exciting contrast in flavours, intense oily mackerel is balanced by the sharp tangy gooseberries.

A great summertime favourite in Devon and Cornwall, Tony the head barman at the Bowd Inn used to go beach casting in Sidmouth in his time off and brought freshly caught mackerel back almost daily, Mmm Happy days

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3 thoughts on “Fruit of the Week, Gooseberries

  1. […] Fruit of the Week, Gooseberries (astrochef.wordpress.com) […]

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  2. mwkitchen June 22, 2012 at 16:00

    Nice post and some good ideas and uses. When I return to London next week, my dad’s garden will be brimming with these and greengages. Both have that sharpness that seems to have fallen in popularity but their uses are really diverse as you say. I will definitely be experimenting this summer with both.

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