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Health Food of the month - Gooseberries

August 2018


gooseberries

Previous Health Foods of the Month...

Grains

Tea

Edible Insects


 

Diet & Supplements Index

Gooseberries have gone so far out of fashion that today some homes haven’t tasted this fabulous traditionally British fruit for years.

Which is a shame because, despite all the exotic imports we can now obtain, the good old gooseberry can still pack a wonderful punch.

Gooseberries are not actually native to our lands. They originate from the cooler areas of eastern Europe and western Asia, and only began to be cultivated in Britain in the sixteenth century. They were hugely popular in Victorian Britain when gooseberries were used for wines, pies and puddings across the land. Gooseberry clubs and competitions were also quite common.

Today gooseberries are generally readily available but are not particularly celebrated or indeed popular. One problem is that fresh gooseberries have a very short season ending anytime now. The later fruit is often a little sweeter than the very tart early harvests, but certainly from now on it will become increasingly difficult to obtain fresh gooseberries anywhere. This could change if demand grows as the growing season can be artificially extended as shown by techniques used for other fruits. But this of course won’t happen unless demand rises. Frozen gooseberries and tinned varieties are of course readily available all year.

Gooseberries are actually related to blackcurrants and redcurrants and are best recognised for their unique flavour rather than their health benefits – gooseberries are made up of around 80% water! That said, they are very useful for vitamin C, just a cup a gooseberries can provide 42 milligrams, well over a third of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C for adults.

For the same cup of gooseberries, you can also benefit from 6 grams of dietary fibre, both soluble and insoluble fibre that is so good for our digestive systems.  Interesting gooseberries contain small levels of manganese (needed to help calcium absorption and help with blood sugar regulation) and also thiamine, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin A, a carotenoid compound that acts as a strong antioxidant. Gooseberries are also low in calories and fat and cholesterol free, although of course this can change if you use them in rich pies or other desserts.

Gooseberry Fool used to be a top favourite dessert when our grandparents were small, and once again this dessert, often incorporating modern yoghurts, is beginning to appear on trendy restaurant menus. There is also a small but growing fashion for gooseberries to be used to flavour savoury foods, often served with duck or even with mackerel or salmon. The BBC Good Food website has a number of ideas for using gooseberries.

To keep gooseberries for winter, they freeze really well. Best to spread them out individually on a tray first and freeze them; then transfer them into a bag or box and pop back into the freezer until you want them.


 


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