Considering our obsession with berries, it's hard to believe that there are still quite a few out there that I've never tried. This week, I had my first encounter with a gooseberry: a fruit smaller than a blueberry with a round-meets-oblong shape (similar to that of a green grape) and a fuzzy, veiny, green apple-colored exterior. I couldn't ignore my intrigue and impulsively picked up a carton to experiment with at home. My initial observations of the fruit, when you keep reading.
I did a quick search and learned that there are hundreds of varieties of gooseberries, which can range in color from yellow to red to pink to green to purple.
On a broad level, gooseberries can be divided into red and green categories. Green are more common and have a milder flavor while red have a higher level of sugar and are better for eating out of hand.
Although ripe gooseberries are hard to come by, both red and green types darken in color as they mature, taking on a boozy, Muscat grape-like flavor. When they are consumed raw and unripe, gooseberries taste like sour grapes. In North America, gooseberries are in season from May to August, and they are at their peak ripening during the month of July.
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.
A few days have passed, and I've yet to decide how to make the most of my carton. I'm open to any suggestions! To those of you who've encountered gooseberries: How do you cook with them?