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Food of the month - Gooseberries

July 2014

I am currently inundated with gooseberries thanks to lovely neighbours who grow them in abundance. The early ones I have been given have been perfect for pies as they were picked when green and slightly under ripe, so had a slightly tart flavour. Now the more fully ripened berries are being picked and they are sweeter and softer.

It is nice that they are of European origin and not some exotic import. They were first cultivated in Britain in the sixteenth century when they were used mainly for medicine rather than food and recommended to plague victims in London. They reached a peak of popularity in nineteenth century Britain when it was high fashion to make and offer guests gooseberry wines, pies and puddings.

Previous Health Foods of the Month...

Blue Tomatoes




Diet & Supplements Index

Waitrose Recipes

Gooseberries are really healthy little fruits. Like blackberries, they have high amounts of phenolic phytochemicals - these include the flavones and anthocyanins you have probably heard of. These are said to have some serious health benefits against cancer, inflammation, neurological diseases and some aspects of ageing.

But gooseberries also have moderate amounts of other benefits which overall adds up to a very useful addition to a diet. They have medium anti-oxidant levels and also an amount of vitamin C. They also contain vitamin A and small amounts of essential vitamins such as vitamin B-5 and B-6, folates and thiamine.

There are a number of different types of gooseberries and they do come in colours other than the traditional pale green that most of us recognise.

Greenfinch is a prolific gooseberry in that traditional bright green and is better cooked. Invicta is a newer type but with paler green berries, again generally these are cooked. The Whitesmith variety of gooseberry has a large pale green fruit and is less tart with a sweeter flavour; a perfect gooseberry for jam and cooking.

There are a number of yellow gooseberry varieties such as Leveller which has a softer slightly sweeter flavour than many of the green varieties. Another yellow gooseberry is Yellow Champagne but this is becoming difficult to find.

You can also obtain red gooseberries; Lancashire Lad was first grown in the 1820s and has large red berries; Whinham’s Industry is a darker red and when fully ripe is much sweeter and tastier than many other types and can be eaten on its own.

Firm cooking gooseberries will keep (unwashed) in the fridge for a week or two and they also freeze well. The softer dessert gooseberries won’t last long; they need to be kept in the fridge and eaten within two or three days.


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