The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

It's gooseberry season in Wisconsin!

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clazar123's picture
clazar123

It's gooseberry season in Wisconsin!

I have a prickly gooseberry bush that was laying flat it was so heavy with berries. Well today it is lightened of its load and I have only a few scratches. Success! So what to do with these wonderful gems?

I NEED IDEAS!

I have done jam but I want to stretch out a bit. I made some gooseberry muffins this morning and they were quite delicious. Any more ideas?

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

So there's one idea.  Tarts, certainly, are another option.

Grandpa grew his own bushes.  We also used to find a wild variety out in the woods where I grew up in northern lower Michigan.  Not only did the bushes have thorns, so did the berries!

Gooseberries weren't my cup of tea as a youngster.  I wonder what I'd think of them now.

Paul

clazar123's picture
clazar123

What's not to like about light,airy muffins with a juicy jamlike spot of sweetness. Everyone loved them.

The gooseberries I have are not the typical green tart berries. This bush is a "dessert variety" that looks like small red grapes when ripe and tastes almost like sweet red grapes. I'm not overly fond of the berry itself but it makes a beautiful ruby red jam/sauce and it self-thickens so they must have a high amount of natural pectin.They are very labor intensive-each berry requiring to be "topped and tailed" so you really work for your treat.

I had never heard of gooseberries but my husband grew up with them so when he saw one in a garden center, he insisted on buying it. It was dug up each time we moves so has followed us to 3 houses. I would NOT like to encounter the wild variety-the BERRIES have thorns?? Maybe that is where the saying "stick in your craw" comes from?

I need to make a large pan of something. Gooseberry bars?

 

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

were pale green with a red blush.  I don't recall any being entirely red, even if they made it to the end of summer without being picked.  The only remaining flavor memory of them is sourness.  Perhaps yours are red currants?  The two are very closely related.

Here's a picture of a wild gooseberry.  I don't recall the ones in our woods being nearly that spiky but you wouldn't have wanted to pop one in your mouth, even so.

Good to know that yours are so enjoyable.

Paul

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

gooseberry pie but they were the tart green ones - probably just not ripe.  The jam is great for puff paste as well.  It would also make a great sauce, the tart portion for any fried Chinese appetizer like crab rangoons or wantons.  With a Thai chili they would be good in any Vietnamese or Thai dipping sauce too. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

  Gooseberry tart is good with a sprinkling of red current berries to detract from the green.  I find if I bite into gooseberry  and think current, I tastes like current.  Same with the red on top, the whole pie tastes like red current.  A mental thing.  

I've eaten the prickly goose berries, with the soft prickers in the UP.  You should see some of the pretty hybrids in Europe!  ...with soft prickers!

I got a recipe that is for an Swiss Apple Tart.  The crust is a sugar cookie crust, pressed into the bottom and up the sides of a spring form pan.  Then the berries are halved and added and dried a little as the pie is baked open for the first 15 minutes, then a custard is poured into the spaces around the berries and sloshed over the top (eggs, vanilla, sour cream, sugar leaving out the lemon) and baked for another 45 minutes to set and brown the edges.  

I used only a few red berries on top of the custard but a few more would be better for the eyes.  

If the gooseberries are very tart (picked early) might want to try topping with a meringue.  Oooo, I bet that would be delish!

I have also froze the cleaned berries and dropped them into cold drinks and wine coolers.  Like frozen grapes are great snacks on boat rides and picnics.

 

 

 

FlourChild's picture
FlourChild

My ideas coincide with Mini's- freeze some to garnish kir royales- I do this with currants and serve them to Thanksgiving guests.  You could also make up a bit of puree with sugar and freeze that to use in drinks- champagne cocktails, gooseberry lemonade, gooseberry iced tea, etc.

The other thing I would love to do with a windfall like that is make up a good sized batch of flaky pie dough (my favorite is RLB's cream cheese crust), roll it out into several pie crusts.  Fill each unbaked crust with about a pound of berries, tossed with sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice.  Cover and freeze, and you'll be able to enjoy a pie later in the year when fresh summer fruits are just a memory.  You can bake straight from the freezer if you freeze in a metal pie pan.

You could also make a crisp, topping them with a mixture of nuts, butter, flour and sugar, maybe lemon zest or cinnamon, too.  

clazar123's picture
clazar123

Gooseberry desserts/drinks are a real labor of love! Between the thorns when picking and the tip&tailing, there is a lot of work involved. I have an English friend who speaks of gooseberries being the size of small plums, Alas, mine are the size of small to large blueberries. So there are many more to tip and tail but the taste is sweet (almost wine-y) and red. They make a ruby red syrup or juice and that may be what I do with half of them.

The custard tart sounds devine as does the idea to freeze some in pieform for the cold winter days.

Thank you!

FlourChild's picture
FlourChild

They do sound like a labor of love!  I feel similarly when making tart cherry pies- pitting all that fruit.  Might be worthwhile to try a small amount cooked stovetop without topping/tailing, and then see if it can be pushed through a strainer to remove the hard/thorny bits and create a smooth puree.  

clazar123's picture
clazar123

If I just cook them with a bit of water and sugar for the juice and strain thru a cloth, I don't have to tip/tail them but I am too frugal.I want the puree from the fruit. The little flower remnants are brown and papery and bits make it thru the finest metal strainer making it look like black bits in the puree. Edible but unappetizing.

So I am tipping them all. They are going to be cooked and first strained for juice. Some juice will be made into a syrup for future use. ( The remains will be put thru a fine sieve for the puree and to remove the seeds. From the puree I will then make some fruit leather and some sauce for topping my breakfast yogurt. I am going to follow FlourChild's idea and make up some pie or tart for the freezer. I also have a recipe for Gooseberry Vodka or Gin. THat might be fun to do for next holiday season-it takes about 4-6 months.

Lots of deliciousness to make this weekend!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

or a spoon.   My Grandfather told me if I ever had a bucket full, I should make wine.   I wonder if they make good pickles?

clazar123's picture
clazar123

I just put some semicrushed berries in water on the counter and we'll see what happens. Maybe next week I'll have bread made from gooseberry yeast water!

I think it would make delightful wine! Gorgeous ruby red color to the juice. I may take some of the juice and let my juice kefir little guy work on it for a day or so. Or just let it ferment. Everything ferments well in this house-it is well populated with all different kinds of edible cultures. If it goes to vinegar-I can use that,too.

Funny you mention the sewing scissors because that is exactly what I am using. I have gotten so fast that I can do about 7 cups in about an hour. I keep a glass of water for dunking the bits off the tip of the scissors and a wet paper towel spread flat to wipe the occasional bit off my finger. SnipSnip-dunk scissortip as I drop berry into the bowl. No wasted motion!

There are a lot of chutney recipes using gooseberries and I can see why-the sweet tart is great with onions and other savory flavors. They behave like cranberries in that they pop and the skins are chewy soft but the sauce is more of a puree that is the consistency of thin,fine applesauce... and pink! The seeds are like raspberry seeds so I am going to strain those out. I have a chinois with very fine holes.

Lovely,busy day.