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gooseberries1-250.jpgEvery June, my aunt calls to alert me that the gooseberries on her 40-year-old bush are ripe. I rushed over to pick several pounds, because I cannot get them anywhere else and gooseberry pie is delicious.

Gooseberries are a rare fruit, but worth seeking because of their tart lemony taste. They are rare because for most of the 20th century, the American government banned the sale of the plants and the commercial production of the fruit because gooseberries (and red currants) carried blister rust disease, which is fatal to white pine trees. Disease-resistant plants have been developed, so gooseberries are no longer contraband.

Gooseberries should not be confused with cape gooseberries (also known as physalis), which is a yellow berry with a husk like tomatillos. Kiwifruit is sometimes called Chinese gooseberry, probably because they both share the same green hue.

By the way, the slang definition of gooseberry means a single friend who hangs around couples. A gooseberry fool, though, is not a hanger-on, but a scrumptious dessert.

Gooseberry Fool

  • 1 quart gooseberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Combine the gooseberries with 1/4 cup of water in a saucepan and cook until the fruit is very tender. Strain and (while still hot) stir in the sugar. Chill the fruit puree. Whip the cream until soft peaks and fold into the fruit. Serve in parfait glasses with macaroon cookies.

2 Comments for “What is a Gooseberry: Gooseberry Fool Recipe”  

  1. Greg

    I enjoy your blog.

    For the full (and interesting) story behind the currant and gooseberry ban, an explanation of why those raisiny things call currants aren’t really currants at all and a mail order source for red and black currants, check out http://www.Currants.com:

    The commercial cultivation of currants was outlawed in 1911 in the U.S. by an act of Congress. The lumber industry put forth the bill believing that the botanical disease known as White Pine Blister Rust, which need both the white pine and currants to complete its cycle, could wipe out the then valuable white pine industry. Because of this legislation, currants have remained off the radar screen of the American consciousness until recently when Greg Quinn, a farmer, was able to overturn the law in New York by demonstrating that new resistant varieties eliminated the specter of the disease.

    In the twenties, Greece began to export small dried grapes; raisins, from the Ionian Islands. The Greek writing on the first shipment for the word Corinth was mistakenly translated at the pier into Currant. Since the growing of the real currants had been banned and few Americans knew what they were any more, the name stuck and we now have 80+ years of cook books telling us to put a half a cup of “currants” in our scones and soda bread when what they really mean is raisins.

    These black Corinth grapes which yield a seedless, mini-raisin one-fourth the size of the average raisin come from the area of Corinth and more specifically from the third largest Ionian Island call Zanthos which is often known as Zante, hence Zante Currants.

  2. AK

    And your aunt’s pronunciation is gooz-berry, yes? At least that’s what my country upbringing says …