How to Cook GooseberriesNovember 13, 2023
The gooseberry is often regarded as a culinary conundrum because of its tart flavour and strange, prickly appearance. But with a bit of guidance, the humble gooseberry can be used in a variety of recipes to create a delightful array of tasty dishes. Gooseberries aren’t in season for very long – typically through June and July – so don’t miss out on cooking these tangy little treats while they’re in season.
Raw gooseberries are pale green in colour with a veiny exterior. Gooseberries proved to be popular in the Middle Ages and onwards; in fact, they were valued for their health-promoting properties and often used to enhance the flavour of stews and sauces. Whether used as the star ingredient of a delicious crumble or made into a marvellous fruit compote, gooseberries can bring a unique tanginess to any dish.
How to cook gooseberries
Gooseberries can cooked in several ways, such as on the hob, in the oven or even slow-cooked. The best way to bring out the flavour of gooseberries is by gently heating them with a touch of sugar, which helps mellow their sharpness and enhance their taste.
How to prepare gooseberries
Before cooking gooseberries, it’s important to rinse them in cold water and remove the ends of each berry, also known as ‘topping and tailing’.
How to stew gooseberries
A common way of preparing gooseberries is to stew them. After topping and tailing, add 800g of gooseberries into a saucepan with two tablespoons of sugar and two of water. Enhance the flavour by optionally adding two tablespoons of elderflower cordial to the mixture. Bring to a boil and then let it simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the fruit is soft.
How to make gooseberry puree
Cooking gooseberries on the hob with sugar will create a sweet-tart compote or puree which can be used as a base for many recipes.
- Take 450g of gooseberries, making sure to wash them, then top and tail each gooseberry.
- Preheat your oven to 180°C/gas mark 4 and lay the gooseberries out on a baking sheet.
- Sprinkle the gooseberries with 84g of sugar (roughly three tablespoons), then bake in the oven for between 20 and 30 minutes.
- After removing the gooseberries from the oven, transfer them into a bowl and break them up with a fork. You can make the compote into a puree by passing the compote through a sieve.
- Taste and add sugar if necessary; however, consider whether the compote will be used in a sweet or savoury dish.
How to make gooseberry crumble
Gooseberry crumble is a treat for those who enjoy a dessert with a tangy twist. It’s a relatively simple dish to make and doesn’t require many ingredients.
- Add 500g of washed, topped and tailed gooseberries into a bowl with 85g of caster sugar, ensuring that all of the gooseberries are sufficiently coated with the caster sugar.
- Spread them out in the base of a baking dish with two tablespoons of water.
- Place 175g of plain flour, 85g of salted butter and a generous pinch of salt into a mixing bowl, mixing until a breadcrumb-like texture is formed.
- Mix in 75g of demerara sugar to finish off the crumble. Sprinkle the crumble topping over the gooseberry mixture in the baking dish and place it into an oven, preheated to 180°C/gas mark 4.
- Leave in the oven for 45-50 minutes – the top should be golden and the gooseberries underneath should be bubbling. Once cool, add your favourite accompaniment and enjoy.
How to make gooseberry pie
A gooseberry pie is a classic summer dessert, that takes a little more effort than the crumble, but is a welcome addition to any dinner table. Pre-made pastry can be used, but homemade is always better.
- Make your own pastry by mixing 250g of unsalted butter and 140g of icing sugar in a bowl.
- While stirring, add 4 egg yolks and 500 grams of plain flour. Use your hands to knead and create a crumble-like texture.
- Work in a couple of tablespoons to bring the pastry together. The finished pastry should be halved and rolled into two balls; this will make double the amount needed, so one ball can be frozen to be used later.
- Make the filling with 900g of gooseberries, 200g of caster sugar and a splash of water in a pan, then simmer for around 10 minutes until the gooseberries are soft. If you’re feeling adventurous, consider swapping out the water with a splash of port.
- Taste the mixture and add more sugar if needed.
- Add the gooseberry mixture to a pie dish. Roll out your pastry until it’s big enough to cover the dish like a lid, and place it on top.
- Trim off any excess pastry, crimp the edges and create a hole in the middle of the pastry lid.
- Brush the pastry with egg yolk, sprinkle it with sugar and place the pie into an oven preheated to 190°C/gas mark 5.
- Leave to bake for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown. After cooling, enjoy your gooseberry pie with a scoop of ice cream or custard.
How to grow gooseberries
For those wondering if you can grow your own gooseberries at home, the answer is yes. Gooseberries tolerate a wide range of soil conditions, but prefer moist, well-drained soil, which is lucky for those of you in the UK. Plus, their inherent resilience makes them easy to grow and ideal for beginners.
According to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), gooseberries crop best and produce sweeter fruits in a sunny position, but will tolerate light shade. They can be planted in the ground or in large containers of soil-based compost. Gooseberry bushes can be trained to grow into ornamental shapes, as well as being left to freely grow in containers or up against a support, such as a wall or fence.
When to pick gooseberries
When it comes to cooking with gooseberries, especially jams, pies, tarts and sauces, it’s best to pick when the fruits are still green and underripe. You’ll typically find the best fruits at this stage throughout June.
You can leave the remainder of the gooseberries on the bush to swell and ripen into sweet berries, harvesting around July and August. But be careful when picking fully ripened berries, as they will be soft, full of juice and likely to burst.
Gooseberry health benefits
HelloFresh’s recipe development manager, Mimi Morley, suggests that gooseberries offer up an impressive range of health benefits:
- Packed with nutrients, yet low in fat and calories
- High in fibre
- Full of antioxidants
- Helpful in preventing spikes in blood sugar levels
- Filled with organic acids and nutrients
What to serve with gooseberries
While gooseberries can be used to make delicious desserts, they can also enhance the flavours of many other dishes. A refreshing gooseberry jam can be spread on your breakfast toast, while gooseberry sauce can be added to a piece of grilled fish or slow-roast pork belly. Additionally, it’s worth mentioning a delightful chunky gooseberry salsa that pairs wonderfully as a dip for barbecue prawns.
Here are some tasty recipes with gooseberries from HelloFresh:
- Pan-fried Pork Steaks with Crispy Sage and Gooseberry Sauce
- Tomatoey Spinach Quinoa Curry with Gooseberry and Mustard Chutney and Cooling Yoghurt
- Gammon Steaks with Spring Onion Mash with Garlicky Spring Greens and Gooseberry Ketchup
Whether part of an accompaniment or the main feature of a meal, the zingy gooseberry brings an unforgettable experience. Head over to the HelloFresh recipe page to check out even more recipes the whole family can enjoy.