|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:
- 'Poorman' - Productive and vigorous,
with medium-sized but high-quality fruit. It is a good cultivar for the
- '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.
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
jellies. Its tart flavor can be overwhelming when eaten raw,
but can be tamed with generous applications of
Nowadays, chefs and home cooks just enjoy
gooseberries for their complexity and their traditional appeal.
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
whipped cream and custard.
Department of Horticulture, Cornell University.
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