Pucker up, its gooseberry season!
You may not realise but there only a few commercial gooseberry growers in the UK which produce a combined total of around 200 tonnes. Now this may sound like a lot to you and me, however this is a dramatic decline considering this berry has been grown in the UK for centuries.
The gooseberry seems to be declining due to the success of its other more successful family members the strawberries, blueberries and blackberries which have seen greater investment resulting in the public buying more of them. Combines this with a short season, and very soft fruit when fully ripened, and it is easy to see why the gooseberry has suffered so dramatically.
Despite the gooseberry suffering on the commercial side of things it could not be more different when it comes to the domestic growers. There are still a number of gooseberry shows in existence, with the oldest being the Egton Bridge Gooseberry Show which dates back to the early 1800s.
Gooseberries when ripe can be seen in white, yellow and red varieties and as they ripen they become softer and sweeter, but still remain generally tart. The dessert gooseberry is much sweeter and can be eaten raw, similar to cooking apples and eating apples.
A lot of chefs have expressed a real love for gooseberries and many are growing their own fruit. Nathan Outlaw has a dish on his menu of gooseberry custard tart with gooseberry and ginger sorbet. http://www.greatbritishchefs.com/recipes/gooseberry-custard-tart-recipe-gooseberry-ginger-sorbet
Paul O’Neill – Head Chef at Berwick Lodge in Bristol has a gooseberry and elderflower trifle on the afternoon tea menu https://www.berwicklodge.co.uk/menu/berwick-afternoon-tea-menu-2/
Richard Mann – Head Chef at Camellia at South Lodge near Horsham, in West Sussex is serving a sorbet and sliced berries with mackerel. https://www.exclusive.co.uk/south-lodge/restaurants- bars/the-camellia/menus/sample-lunch-market-menu/
So why not put those strawberries, blueberries and blackberries back on the supermarket shelf and give the good old humble gooseberry and try.
Below is my personal favourite gooseberry recipe. Give it a go yourself over the weekend: http://www.greatbritishchefs.com/recipes/gooseberry-pie-recipe
Enjoy Your Weekend