In my July column for The Arbuturian magazine I included a recipe for a classic gooseberry fool. And then moved straight on to other seasonal delights of cucumber and lavender. But I had really only scratched the surface of gooseberry’s possibilities, so here are a few more.
I grew up with gooseberry crumbles and pies all summer long. The berries picked from the garden and diligently topped and tailed. Less diligently if that process turned into a sibling race. And to go back to that fool recipe for a moment. It – like all fools – is lovely frozen as a pseudo ice-cream.
For sweet dishes the pink/red gooseberries will bring some of their own sweetness. Lightly cooked with other seasonal fruits they make a very quick summer dessert. For 4 people, heat 500g gooseberries with 250g red currants and a couple of tablespoons of sugar for 5 minutes. Stop earlier if they’re going soggy – you want them to keep their shape. Add 150g raspberries for a minute or so. Dish it up whilst still hot, with thick cream alongside and a few mint leaves.
Eliza Acton wrote about making a batter pudding with gooseberries. Very similar to what we’d think of as a clafoutis and I think it’s rather a nice idea to swap the usual cherries for gooseberries. Again, the pinker ones might be best.
Gooseberries have their savoury uses too. This simple sauce is a traditional British flavour partnership with mackerel and is also lovely with duck:
Cook 400g gooseberries – with one tablespoon of sugar and a couple of water – until soft. Liquidise or press through a sieve. Melt 40g butter in a pan. Add to it the gooseberry puree, a grating of nutmeg and a little salt. Cook for a few minutes and serve with your mackerel (or duck).