So, what are gooseberries?
We have only encountered these tart little berries a few times- each time endearing them to us ever more. They are small berries related to currants (we’ll get to those too) native to Europe, and parts of Asia. There are many varieties, most of them though follow the same idea: small to medium berries with a mildly tough skin, a sour to tart flesh, and astringent seeds. The flavors can range from really sour to a mellow almost winey subdued tart, they also can be green to red.
Currants are similar to gooseberries. They can be black or red currants, and they have a lovely tart and slightly astringent flesh, thin skin and very astringent seeds.
What do you do with gooseberries? OR currants?
Well, you can eat them raw, however, depending on the variety, the astringent nature of the seeds may not be to your raw-berry-munching-liking. I personally like to munch on them, Theresa, less so. They are great for making jams, or making desserts in which you either cook or add an additional sweetness to them. Also, they are great for making many drinks, think cordials, sodas, wines, sauces even. Their strong fruity flavor is unique and adds a wonderful complexity to many items.
We first heard about uses for currants and gooseberries from Redwall, a children’s book series By Brian Jacques…. white gooseberry wine, currant jam and cordial, yum! I will say this book series is great and it details some of the most epic vegetarian feasts I have ever heard of…. yum!
When we encountered our first gooseberry- strangely from our Wholefoods. We seized the opportunity and immediately bought two containers and ran home to figure out how we should use them. Luckily, my sister had bought me a great little cookbook (Favourite Welsh Recipes: Traditional Welsh Fare ‘Bwyd Traddodiadol o Gymru’) while in Wales, which just so happened to have a yummy sounding recipe for gooseberries: Eirin Mair Hufennog Gwent or Gwent Gooseberry Cream (I love the ridiculousness of Welsh), which was delicious! The perfect combination of flavors! I here relinquish this lovely recipe:
Eirin Mair Hufennog Gwent (Gwent Gooseberry Cream):A South Wales recipe for poached gooseberries in a rich creamy individual setting: Serves 4-6.
- 1 pound of gooseberries
- 5 oz plain yoghurt
- 3/4 cup caster sugar
- 8 oz double cream
- 1 teaspoon icing sugar
- a few drops vanilla essence
- 6 dessertspoons Demerara sugar (I have no idea what dessertspoons are, but the Demerara sugar, which is really unrefined sugar is a treat not worth missing)
- Poach gooseberries in a saucepan with a little bit of water and with the caster sugar.
- Keep the berries whole by poaching gently.
- When cool, spoon the gooseberries into 4-6 ramekins dishes (or just cute little serving dishes).
- Beat the yoghurt and cream together until they form soft peaks.
- Fold vanilla and icing sugar into the yoghurt mixture.
- Pour yoghurt mixture on top of gooseberries.
- Sprinkle a dessert spoon of Demerara sugar over the top of each.
- Cover with plastic wrap or a napkin and refrigerate for several hours.
- The sugar will form a nice crunchy topping over divine creaminess over tart loveliness of gooseberries.
- Serve and enjoy lavishly!
Another great use for gooseberries is to make gooseberry tarts. I will say that if in doubt always combine gooseberries and some creamy dairy item- it just works really well. So, the gooseberry tarts that I made we served with sweetened yoghurt- really good!
Gooseberry Tart: (makes two big tarts- serves 4)
- 1 1/2 cup of gooseberries
- 3 tbsp Demerara sugar
easy cream cheese pie dough (based on Cindy Mushnet’s Art and Soul of Baking):
- 3/4 cups whole wheat white flour
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- pinch of salt
- 2 oz butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 4 oz cream cheese (still cold, cut into 4 pieces)
- Put flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and process for 20 seconds.
- While the processor still is going, add the cold butter pieces, processing for about 10 seconds, until the mixture looks like bread crumbs.
- Add cream cheese and pulse ~20 times with 1 second pulses, until large shaggy clumps of dough form.
- Turn the dough onto a work surface and knead gently 2 to 3 times to make a cohesive dough.
- Cut dough into two pieces.
- With your fingers pull and push the dough into nice circles, at about 1/2 in thickness on a baking sheet.
- Combine about 1 tbsp honey, 2 tbsp of Demerara sugar and the gooseberries.
- Mix to combine well, the honey should coat the berries and make the Demerara sugar stick to them.
- Pour gooseberry mixture onto the middle of the dough, fold up the edges of the dough.
- Sprinkle extra demarara sugar on top, for an extra touch, smear honey along the eldge of the dough- it will darken so you can make designs of make it look ‘rustic’- whatever.
- Bake for ~ 20 minutes at 375 F, or until the crust browns and the berries become gooey.
- Let cool and serve!
We took some of Sidehill Farm’s Whole Milk Maple Syrup flavored Yoghurt and served the tart on top with a little drizzle of maple syrup. They were divine!
So that is the dirt on gooseberries. We made jam with the currants. I will post about that later.