Seasonal Recipes: Gooseberries

These are the last gooseberries from my allotment. Whilst we love their flavour (and resultant jam!) there's just too much pain involved in their harvest and there's also an enormous bramble growing in the middle of their bed which just refuses to go away. A thorough digging over is needed to ensure its demise which can't be done whilst it's surrounded by a thicket of bushes.

As you can see I have a mixture: "Careless" and the smaller, red berried "Whinham's Industry". These have been topped and tailed, washed and then left to stew over a low heat for 10 minutes with just a little sugar added. I ignore the amount of sugar given in recipes, preferring instead to add to taste as I've found the type of gooseberry and timing of picking can radically alter how tart they are.

I've picked enough to make two of my favourite recipes from my trusty Good Housekeeping Cookery Book: a classic gooseberry sauce to accompany NAH's mackerel salad whilst I'm away, plus a scrummy gooseberry fool for desert. As usual I've altered the original recipes to make them my own.

Gooseberry Sauce (serves 4)


12 oz (350g) gooseberries
1 oz (25g) butter or margarine (I used Benecol low fat spread)
1oz (25g) sugar - not much is needed because this is a savoury dish
0.25 level tsp (1.25ml) freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper

  1. Put the gooseberries in a saucepan with a quarter of a pint (150ml) water and cook for 4-5 minutes until tender and pulped. (I just add the gooseberries to the pan after washing them and stir well until the fruit starts to break down)
  2. Drain and rub through a sieve, or puree using a stick blender
  3. Add the butter (Benecol), sugar, nutmeg, plus salt and pepper to taste
  4. Reheat and serve - I often serve it cold with salad
Gooseberry Fool (serves 4)

1lb (450g) gooseberries
4oz (100g) sugar - I rarely use as much as this
Quarter pint (150 ml) milk (I use semi skimmed, use whatever you prefer)
1 level tbsp (15ml) custard powder
5oz (150ml) whipping cream (I use half-fat creme fraiche)
A few drops green food colouring (I don't bother)
Chopped nuts, to decorate (only if I have any to hand)

  1. Put the gooseberries and sugar in a saucepan with 2tbsp (30ml) water, cover and cook for about 20 minutes (I just add the gooseberries to the pan after washing them and don't add extra water)
  2. Sieve or puree the fruit with a stick blender
  3. Blend the custard powder with a little milk and heat the remaining milk. Pour the hot milk onto the blended custard powder, stirring, then return to the pan and stir over a gentle heat until thickened. (I find it easier to pour cold milk onto the blended powder in a glass jug, then heat in a microwave, stirring a couple of times until it's thickened)
  4. Add the fruit to the custard and allow to cool. Add the food colouring if using.
  5. Whip the cream until stiff, then fold into the puree (or just fold in the creme fraiche)
  6. Chill in the fridge
  7. Decorate with nuts for serving


  1. Love love love gooseberries - I grow Invicta. Keep meaning to find space for some red goosegog bushes, but the jocasta got there first!

    Good Housekeeping Cookbook is my fave book too.

    Another way to cook them, and I do this with rhubarb too. Once you've topped and tailed them, put them in the oven in a gratin type dish, sprinkle with a little demerara and just bake 'til soft. Don't add any water. The flavour seems more intense this way.

  2. Mmmm! I love gooseberry fool and I'm going to try that gooseberry sauce once our gooseberries are ripe.
    It's been so very cold and wet here that they're nowhere near ripe yet...and I'm about to put the heating on for an hour or so! :-(

  3. how much milk do you use? I think you missed it on your ingredients list.
    still waiting to harvest mine - I planned to at the weekend, but they are still hard! First crop of blackcurrants picked though - all 150 grams...:)

  4. Zoe - that sounds delicious. Sounds like the flavour intensifies just like tomatoes do when roasted in the oven :)

    NG - hopefully the warmer weather will get yours ripened now!

    Lu - well spotted. Recipe is now updated to show I use a quarter of a pint of milk. I was in a rush to get the post done before I went on hols! BTW I have had 1 blackcurrant this year. That's right, just ONE!


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