Scandinavian Gooseberry

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Scandinavian Gooseberry

Gooseberries are indigenous to northern Europe and northern Asia and thrive in the cool climate and rainfall of the north. In fact, hot summers and milder climates are no good for gooseberries. Learn more about Scandinavian gooseberries here.

It is very difficult to buy fresh gooseberries in Scandinavia, so people generally have to grow their own if they wish to have a supply. The reward is one of the most delicious fruits you can grow this far north.

How it grows

Gooseberries are low-maintenance fruit; they grow happily in semi-shade, but they detest fertilizing. They might grow more, but there is an instant pay-off as the fast growth attracts gooseberry mildew, a true killer. You also have to beware of caterpillars that can strip your bush to the bone in an instant. Apart from these threats, gooseberry cultivation is easy. The picking, however, is less so.

The article continues below the image. You might also be interested in learning about Scandinavians and Strawberries. Just click the image below.

Scandinavian gooseberries
Click the image to learn more about Scandinavians and strawberries.
Scandinavian gooseberries
Green gooseberries. Photo: Plantasjen.

Appearance and taste

The bush is covered with nasty thorns, the berries themselves are softly hairy and, on top of this, perfectionist housewives have a dogma about the virtues of topping and tailing them before eating, all of which may help to explain why gooseberries have fallen so massively out of favor. What a shame is it that children no longer know the joy of crushing a sun-warm gooseberry against the teeth, the sweet jelly exploding in sensations of exotic fruit, awakening their tasty buds. There are many cultivars, all starting out green, but ripening to whitish, yellow, green or red according to variety; old cultivars tend to be sweeter and with more taste.

Scandinavian gooseberries
Tasty and juicy green gooseberries with seeds. Photo: Jacobs

Health benefits

Gooseberries contain vitamin A, B and C.

The article continues below the image. You can learn more about Scandinavian berries by clicking the image.

Scandinavian gooseberries
Learn more about Scandinavian berries by clicking the image.

 

Scandinavian gooseberries
Delicious Scandinavian red gooseberries. Photo: Plantasjen.

Culinary uses

Gooseberries are often used to make compote and jam, while they are green and unripe and the pectin level is high, but the crisp, ripe berries filled like chocolates with a fragrant, musky jelly are the real treat. Young, green gooseberries are lovely simply softened in a pan to make compote with a minimum of water, then sweetened to take away the tartness and finished with a knob of butter. Ripe berries will need to add lemon juice at the end of the cooking time to make it set.

The amount of sugar used and the cooking time are the only difference between sauce, compote and jam. Whichever you are making, always add the sugar after the berries have burst, otherwise they will float like punctured tennis balls in the syrup and never tenderize. On the other hand, gooseberries should not be cooked to a mush – a certain amount of structure is good in any gooseberry preparation. Don’t bother to top and tail gooseberries, as you will go mad doing it; they will be nice and tender after cooking.

Scandinavian gooseberries
Gooseberry and elderflower jam.

Gooseberry and Elderflowe jam

We will cover elderflower in an up-coming article later. However, the blooming of the elderflower coincides perfectly with the appearance of the first green gooseberries. They are a match made in heaven.

1 kg unripe gooseberries
800g sugar
10 elderflower heads
200ml elderflower, picked off the stalks.

Put the washed gooseberries into a shallow, non-corrosive pan, then cover the bottom of the pan with 2mm water. Put the lid on and bring to the boil. Let the berries bubble gently until they burst, then take care that the fruit don’t burn before they have released their juices.

Add the sugar and the elderflower heads, which you should tie together with string, with most of the green stalk removed. Let the fruit boil vigorously for 5 minutes until most of the liquid has gone and the mixture looks jammy. Taste, and add more sugar if necessary. Remove and discard the bunch of elderflowers.

Stir in the little white elderflowers (without stalks) after you have removed the jam from the heat. Pour into sterilized jars and seal.

Scandinavian gooseberry, written by Tor Kjolberg
Feature image (on top): © Pixabay

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