Suppression

Gooseberries

Category: Food

Type

Voluntary

Introduction and description

Adriaen Coorte - gooseberries on a tablet [detail]

 My father grew gooseberries.  He must have had about 10 bushes.  The fruit, even when ripe, were green and made you suck your cheeks in and squint a bit.  Your eyes tended to water too, even when they had sugar added.  My mother loved them like that, but then my Mum was a bit special.  My father even tried to make some home made wine from them, but that really did make your eyes water, I'm not sure 'dry' describes it adequately.  It was an acquired taste.

So, I have to say I did not have a great desire to plant gooseberry bushes when my husband and I acquired a house with a big garden.  But I was wrong, because there are some lovely sweet pink varieties of dessert gooseberries that taste heavenly, and gooseberries are healthy, versatile and very easy to grow.  What changed my mind was my first attempt at gooseberry ice cream, of which more in a moment.

 

Ribes uva-crispa - L. is better known as the common or European gooseberry.  It belongs to the Grossulariaceae family.  The plant is a deciduous shrub growing to 1.2 m (4ft) by 1 m (3ft 3in) which has soft hairy leaves and fearsome prickles or 'spikes'.  It is extraordinarily hardy, surviving North of England winters buried completely in snow and being subjected to hard frosts.

The gooseberry is native to Europe, northwestern Africa, west, south and southeast Asia.  They grow gooseberries in Southern India in Kerala, which shows what a versatile plant it is.

 

The fruit of wild gooseberries is smaller than in the cultivated varieties, but tasty; the fruit is generally hairy, but there are some smooth varieties; the berries' colour is usually green, but there are red (to purple), yellow, and white variants. 

Baynes, T.S. (1879). The Encyclopaedia Britannica: A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and General Literature
Of the many hundred sorts enumerated in recent horticultural works, few perhaps equal in flavour some of the older denizens of the fruit-garden, such as the Old Rough Red and Hairy Amber. The climate of the British Isles seems peculiarly adapted to bring the gooseberry to perfection, and it may be grown successfully even in the most northern parts of Scotland; indeed, the flavour of the fruit is said to improve with increasing latitude. In Norway even, the bush flourishes in gardens on the west coast nearly up to the Arctic Circle, and it is found wild as far north as 63°

 

The European gooseberry is one of several similar species in the subgenus Grossularia; and in other related species, for example, the North American Gooseberry Ribes hirtellum, the fruit can be green or dark purple to black.  So in reality, there is nothing common about the common gooseberry.

 

Background

 

Overall the gooseberry is a tough little plant, but it does get attacked by mildew, if it is not looked after.  Fruit is produced on lateral spurs and on the previous year's shoots. It needs to be pruned.  The main aim is to let the light in and a subsidiary purpose is to allow picking without excessive scratching from the spines. "Heavy nitrogen composting must be avoided as too much nitrogen will produce extensive growth and weaken the bush. This will make the bush susceptible to mildew".

Gooseberry bushes are also vulnerable to magpie moth caterpillars,  the V-moth and the worst pest in our parts  - the Gooseberry sawfly (Nematus ribesii).  Nematus ribesii grubs bury themselves in the ground to pupate and on hatching into adult form, they lay their eggs, which soon hatch into larvae, on the underside of gooseberry leaves.   They can strip a plant of all its leaves, almost overnight.  Interestingly enough, the plants do survive, producing new leaves, but practically no fruit.

Insecticides used in the 19th-century against these included tar water, weak solutions of carbolic acid, and powdered hellebore, which worked against magpie moths and V-moths as well as gooseberry sawflies. Foxglove and tobacco infusions were also sometimes used.”

 

In theory if you dig around the plant every so often it digs up the sawfly, but in practise, you always miss some.

Plants are self-fertile and the flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs), so in theory you only need one.  If they survive the sawfly you get a good crop from one plant, as long as you feed it well.  The flowers are pollinated by insects.  The soil needs to be well drained, but moist during berry setting, and they seem to do best on acid soils, although on the whole they seem to do OK on most soils.  It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade.

One of the strange things about the gooseberry is it appears to be underrated medicinally.  It is mentionned as a plant to help with constipation, but on the whole all its properties did not appear to be widely known, or maybe we just lost this knowledge.

Baynes, T.S. (1879). The Encyclopaedia Britannica: A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and General Literature

 

Although gooseberries are now abundant in Germany and France, it does not appear to have been much grown there in the Middle Ages, though the wild fruit was held in some esteem medicinally for the cooling properties of its acid juice in fevers; while the old English name, Fea-berry, still surviving in some provincial dialects, indicates that it was similarly valued in Britain, where it was planted in gardens at a comparatively early period. William Turner describes the gooseberry in his Herball, written about the middle of the 16th century.

The medicinal properties are described in the observations.

"Gooseberry bush" was 19th-century slang for pubic hair, and from this comes the saying that babies are "Born under a gooseberry bush".

So now you know.

Chemical constituents

Gooseberry Crompton Sheba Queen RHS

I have reproduced the table that occurs in Dr Duke's database in full, as there are indications that the leaves as well as the fruit may have interesting properties.

Essential fatty acids are marked in green.  Gooseberries contain both types needed

  • ALA - α-Linolenic acid.
  • LA - Linoleic acid.

Essential amino acids  are not present in gooseberries.  

Minerals - are marked in Blue.  Vanadium is not present nor Iodine, but all other needed minerals are.  The needed minerals present were


 

which makes goseberries a very useful food.  The only mineral needed but not present was: Chloride.

Vitamins - are shown in pink.  A gooseberry does not contain,  Vitamin B7 [also known as biotin],  Vitamin B12 [also known as cobalamin],  Vitamin D [also known as ergocalciferol], Vitamin B9 [also known as folic acid or folate or folacin] or  Vitamin K.  Vitamin C content is high.  It does contain

Heavy metals for which our bodies have no use are shown in the table below in Red. These must have been present in the soil in which this sample was grown, which means the plant takes up heavy metals.   Note that in time, it may be found that some of these metals do have a use, feeding our intestinal eco-sysytem, but for the time being they are regarded as not needed and in some cases not wanted.   If we look at this in a positive way, the gooseberry is a natural chelating agent.  If we can find an organically grown source of gooseberries, from an area free of toxins, we have a healing agent.

List of chemicals

Chemical

Part

Lo
ppm

Hi
ppm

(+)-CATECHIN

Fruit

   

(+)-GALLOCATECHIN

Plant

   

10,16-DIHYDROXY-HEXADECANOIC-ACID

Fruit

   

18-HYDROXY-OCTADECANOIC-ACID

Fruit

   

ACETIC-ACID

Fruit

   

ALPHA-LINOLENIC-ACID

Fruit

460

3792

ALUMINUM

Fruit

1

33

ARSENIC

Fruit

   

ASCORBIC-ACID

Fruit

263

2397

ASH

Fruit

4000

183000

BETA-CAROTENE

Fruit

0.6

14

BORON

Fruit

1

15

BROMINE

Fruit

   

CADMIUM

Fruit

0.001

0.04

CALCIUM

Fruit

185

4122

CARBOHYDRATES

Fruit

101800

839239

CHLORINE

Fruit

107

882

CHLOROGENIC-ACID

Fruit

   

CHROMIUM

Fruit

0.002

0.08

CITRIC-ACID

Fruit

 

8800

COBALT

Fruit

   

COPPER

Fruit

0.4

6

CYANIDIN-3-GLUCOSIDE

Fruit

   

CYANIDIN-3-RUTINOSIDE

Fruit

   

FAT

Fruit

5800

47815

FAT

Seed

183000

200000

FERULIC-ACID

Fruit

   

FIBER

Fruit

19000

156636

FLUORINE

Fruit

0.04

0.8

FORMIC-ACID

Fruit

   

FRUCTOSE

Fruit

 

41000

GAMMA-LINOLENIC-ACID

Seed

   

GLUCOSE

Fruit

 

44000

GLYOXYLIC-ACID

Fruit

   

INDOLE-ACETIC-ACID

Seed

   

IRON

Fruit

2.5

40

ISOCITRIC-ACID

Fruit

   

LEUCOANTHOCYANIN

Fruit

   

LINOLEIC-ACID

Fruit

2710

22341

LUTEIN

Fruit

1.7

9

MAGNESIUM

Fruit

86

938

MALIC-ACID

Fruit

 

7300

MANGANESE

Fruit

1

16

MERCURY

Fruit

0

0.017

MOLYBDENUM

Fruit

   

NEO-CHLOROGENIC-ACID

Fruit

   

NIACIN

Fruit

3

25

NICKEL

Fruit

0.004

0.4

NITROGEN

Fruit

1100

15000

OLEIC-ACID

Fruit

510

4204

OXALIC-ACID

Fruit

   

P-COUMARIC-ACID

Fruit

   

PALMITIC-ACID

Fruit

190

1566

PANTOTHENIC-ACID

Fruit

3

24

PECTIN

Fruit

   

PHOSPHORUS

Fruit

150

2665

POTASSIUM

Fruit

1150

20830

PROTEIN

Fruit

7300

84913

PROTOPECTIN

Fruit

   

QUINIC-ACID

Fruit

   

RIBOFLAVIN

Fruit

0

2

SACCHAROSE

Fruit

 

630

SELENIUM

Fruit

   

SHIKIMIC-ACID

Fruit

   

SILICON

Fruit

1

42

SODIUM

Fruit

10

82

STARCH

Fruit

 

15000

STEARIC-ACID

Fruit

130

1071

SUCROSE

Fruit

 

7100

SUGARS

Fruit

19800

102500

SULFUR

Fruit

96

1113

TANNIN

Fruit

   

TARTARIC-ACID

Fruit

   

THIAMIN

Fruit

0

3

TOCOPHEROL

Fruit

7

56

VIT-B-6

Fruit

1

7

WATER

Fruit

875000

882000

ZINC

Fruit

1

16

Method

 

You can make the standard gooseberry dishes such as gooseberry fool with a home made egg custard and gooseberry puree. 

Gooseberries can be made into a delicious chutney - both in the Keralan style and in the bog standard English style [gooseberries, cloves/allspice, sugar, malt vinegar]! 


Or there is the staple of the North of England  - smoked, filleted and deboned mackerel/herring with gooseberry sauce.

Lamb Sweetbreads with Smoked Butter Samphire
and Elderflower Gooseberries

Or gooseberry salad - for the salad you must have pink dessert gooseberries as you eat them raw, to this you add rocket, new potatoes, and optionally beetroot or pecans. 

You can make gooseberry jam. 

And here are a few more unusual ideas on how to use gooseberries.  I have put more recipes in than normal to show you that it is a very versatile fruit and can be made into a host of interesting dishes.


 

Nellika curry - Southern Indian cooking

Gooseberry jelly

1 tablespoon of tamarind paste or liquid
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
2oz freshly grated coconut
2 cloves garlic
Chilli powder to taste
1 teaspon turmeric
4 finely slice shallots
10 curry leaves
9oz dessert gooseberries topped and tailed
1-4 green chillies seeds removed.
1 teaspoon sugar [to taste]
a pinch of fenugreek seeds
a pinch of asafoetida
salt

 Nellika curry

Blend coconut, 1 teaspoon mustard seeds, garlic, chilli, turmeric and water until you get a masala paste.  Heat oil in frying pan.  Add remaining mustard seeds to hot oil.  As they begin to pop add asafoetida, then shallots and curry leaves.  Cook until shallots are soft.  Add gooseberries, green chillies, sugar, and fenugreek.  Mix well.  Add water and salt to taste.  Simmer very gently until gooseberries are soft but not disintegrated.  Add masal paste and tamarind.  Simmer for about 10 minutes more.  Serve with grilled meats or oily fish

The addition of coconut cream to this dish makes it into a lovely dish to have with rice and 'wetter' curries. 
Another curry recipe, very adaptable because you can add squashes, other sorts of vegetables, melons ,yams or more flavouring like shallots, garlic and ginger and as the Kerala lass who described this recipe says "make it even richer and yummier!".........

Nellikka Moru Curry

 
 Ingredients
  • 3 Gooseberries
  • ¼ Cup grated Coconut
  • ½ Cup Yogurt
  • 1 Green Chilli
  • ½ tspn Cumin
  • Salt to taste
  • For tempering
  • 1 tspn Oil
  • ½ tspn Mustard seeds
  • Curry leaves
Directions
  • Roughly chop the gooseberries and discard the seeds
  • Grind the coconut, cumin seeds, green chilli and gooseberries to a fine paste
  • Add two tablespoon water ,salt and beat the yogurt well.
  • Heat a pan and add the beaten yogurt and stir well and cook for 2-3 minutes
  • Add the ground paste and cook for another 2-3 minutes until it is foamy.
  • Remove from the flame and prepare the tempering by heating the oil in a wok.
  • Add in the mustard seeds to the hot oil, once it starts to crackle add the curry leave sauté for few seconds.
  • Add the tempering to the Yogurt gravy and stir well.

Now we move to dessert dishes and first of all the one that changed my mind over gooseberries.


 

Gooseberry ice cream - from Ices Galore by Rubenstein and Bush

elderflowers can also be added
or cordial

1lb gooseberries
6 oz sugar
1/2 pint double cream

Wash the gooseberries but do not bother to top and tail them.  Put them in a pan with the sugar and 2 or 3 tablespoons of water.  Simmer until very soft.  Pass through a nylon sieve and leave to cool.  Whip cream lightly, fold the cool puree into the cream.  Freeze.  If you do not have an ice cream maker, then take the ice cream out of the freezer as it sets and whisk well, returning it to the freezer.  Remove from freezer one hour before serving and leave in the refrigerator.

another dessert recipe

A similar recipe made with cream rather
than butter

Gooseberry Cream - Farmhouse Fare recipes from Country Housewives

1 quart gooseberries
2-4oz butter
6oz sugar [brown of white according to preference]
4 to 6 egg yolks
Cold water

Wash gooseberries, simmer gently in a pan with the sugar, when very soft sieve.  To sieved mixture add butter gradually, the egg yolks well beaten.  Leave to set in warm place.  Egg yolks must cook but not boil otherwise mixture will curdle.  Serve in small glass dishes.  If you have any very ripe dessert gooseberries the two go beautifully together.

Gooseberries go really well with elderflowers and are ripe round about the same time as elderflowers are out.  The alternative is to use organic good quality elderflower cordial.  This is more complicated, but very pretty

the jelly and the ice cream go well together

Elderflower jelly

  • 500g gooseberries, topped and tailed
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 300ml elderflower cordial
  • 200ml sparkling elderflower pressé
  • 4 gelatine leaves

Put the gooseberries and sugar in a large pan. Pour over the elderflower cordial and sparkling elderflower. Heat gently for 10 minutes to dissolve the sugar, then poach the fruit gently for about 3-5 minutes until just soft but not falling apart. Lift them out with a slotted spoon and set aside. Sieve the liquid into a measuring jug and bring it up to the 600ml mark with more sparkling elderflower or water. Soak the appropriate number of gelatine leaves (follow packet instructions) in cold water for about 8 minutes, until floppy. Put a few tablespoons of the liquid in a small pan and heat. Squeeze the gelatine and add to the pan, then immediately remove it from the heat and swirl the liquid until the gelatine dissolves. Pour this back into the rest of the liquid with about 50 of the gooseberries. Place in the fridge to chill for 2 hours, until just setting (gelling). Pour into 6 glasses, taking care to push the gooseberries down into the jelly. (You may need to push them in every 20 minutes until they stay put.) Leave overnight to set completely.

The following recipe is old and I was told it was the precursor in the UK for HP sauce or brown sauce to go with chips [fries] and egg and bacon.

Gooseberry ketchup

Gooseberry and ginger ketchup

Put 2 quarts gooseberries in a pan with a little water, simmer until mushy then sieve. 

Add 2 cups vinegar, 3 lbs brown sugar/molasses, and a dessertspoon each of ground cinnamon , cloves and allspice. 

Cook very slowly for 2 hours. 

Put in bottles and seal down tightly.  A delightful adjunct to cold meats.

 

Related observations