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Gooseberries

Indigenous to much of Europe and Asia, gooseberries belong to the same genus as currants. They grow naturally in alpine thickets and rocky woods and have been widely cultivated.

Popular with gardeners in the United Kingdom, gooseberries are less familiar in the Americas because federal and state governments outlawed their cultivation to prevent the spread white pine blister rust. The federal ban wasn't lifted until 1966.

There are two types of gooseberry plants: American (Ribes hirtellum) and European (Ribes uva-crispa). Cultivars of the American type are smaller but more resistant to mildew. They tend to be healthier and more productive. These include:
Pixwell Gooseberry Plant

  • 'Poorman' - Productive and vigorous, with medium-sized but high-quality fruit. It is a good cultivar for the home garden.
  • 'Oregon Champion' - Medium to large yellow-green berries. Excellent for processing.
  • 'Hinnonmaki Red' and 'Hinnonmaki Yellow' - Medium-sized red and green fruit, respectively.
  • 'Captivator' - A cross of American and European cultivars, has red, tear-drop-shaped fruit. Nearly thornless and mildew-resistant.
  • 'Pixwell' - Easy to propagate, commonly sold and very productive cultivar. Low, 3-foot bushes with small thorns are very hardy and bear medium-sized fruit that starts out green and turns purple upon ripening.
Fruit

Gooseberries have long been prized in the United Kingdom, where they are one of the first fruits to ripen in spring.  And, unlike most berries, they are relatively hardy and will last for a week or more in the refrigerator after picking.

The fuit is naturally high in pectin, making it ideal for jams and jellies. Its tart flavor can be overwhelming when eaten raw, but
can be tamed with generous applications of sweeteners.

Nowadays, chefs and home cooks just enjoy
gooseberries for their complexity and their traditional appeal.




Prized for their complexity and traditional appeal by many chefs and home cooks, gooseberries work well in savory dishes.

In Britain, a gooseberry sauce is sometimes served with fatty meat or fish, like mackerel.
The most classic preparation is a Gooseberry Fool, a dessert of fruit puree,
whipped cream and custard.

Sources: Department of Horticulture, Cornell University.

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