Berry Of The Week: Gooseberries

gooseberriesThis week we’re talking about one of the more unusual berries: gooseberries! These little grape-like berries are sweet and juicy in red: think the taste of a grape, fig, and apricot all rolled into one delicious treat. In green, they look like tiny watermelons and are said to taste a bit like sour grapes. Chances are you’ve perhaps heard of a gooseberry, but never tried one. Here’s your chance to learn a little then head out on an adventure to get your hands on this amazing berry!

History of Gooseberries

Indigenous to cooler areas of Europe and western Asia, gooseberries were first cultivated in Britain in the sixteenth century when they were used medicinally and recommended to plague victims in London. They reached a peak of popularity in nineteenth century Britain when gooseberry wines, pies and puddings were commonplace. Amateur gooseberry clubs, mostly in the Midlands and North of England, held fiercely-fought competitions to find the biggest and tastiest fruit, and many new varieties were developed during this period.

In 1905 the whole European crop of gooseberries was wiped out by a mildew disease accidentally introduced from America. The plant was reintroduced by crossing with mildew-resistant American gooseberries. Today gooseberries are grown and eaten in cooler climates across the globe, from northern America and northern Europe to the Himalayas.

Where Can I Buy Gooseberries?

Gooseberries are a bit more unusual than your run of the mill strawberry, so you may have to head to a farm to find them. Here are a few farms that have gooseberries in Michigan (found on pickyourown.org): KlineKrest farm in Lyons, Sandy Bottom Berries in Rockford. They are also cultivating gooseberries at the Haven Garden! Call around to farms near you to find out where they grow gooseberries, check your local health food store, or go on pickyourown.org.

Organic vs. Conventional

We recommend choosing the safe option and picking organic gooseberries. They are a bit more expensive, but if you care about our planet and your health, it is the right choice. Organic gooseberries use less non-renewable resources, eliminate the use of toxic chemicals that harm our environment and health of farmers, conserves resources, and values health.

If you simply can’t afford to choose all organic fruits and vegetables, be sure to clean your fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating. Scrub using a vegetable brush, soak in either salt water or vinegar, and peel the skin off whenever possible.

Nutritional Benefits

The various nutrients include calcium, phosphorus and Vitamin B complex.

The juice of gooseberry blended with honey is extremely useful in improving eyesight and is a popular herbal remedy among herbalists. Gooseberries also offer therapeutic value for patients in diabetes as it helps in reducing the level of sugar in the black and stimulating the hormones and that secrete insulin.  As an ageing agent, gooseberries prevent the presence of excess lipids in the blood.

It is also helpful increasing production of red blood corpuscles in the body and strengthening teeth and nails. Gooseberry can be had in its rock form as a fresh fruit or in its dried state to build overall good health. It is as are to be a powerful and nourishing health food for people belonging to any age group and a regular consumption of gooseberry can ensure good health as well as prevention from acute and chronic maladies. Recent studies have also proven that gooseberries possess antifungal properties and are effective in inhibiting the formation of the yeast in fungal infections. Similarly, the gooseberry is clinically proved to have anti-inflammatory properties as well as anti-ageing abilities. It helps in enhancing protein synthesis and is highly effective in patients with hypoglycemia.

Daily consumption of gooseberries helps in neutralizing toxins that have built up in the body over a period of time. Gooseberries are a perfect way to boost the immunity system and relieve the body from the daily stress. When taken as part of medication, it can also help end curing disorders related to digestion and liver conditions.

Gooseberry Tips

BUYING

The small green cooking gooseberries are available early in the season; look for firm undamaged berries.

Later season dessert gooseberries (often red, yellow or golden coloured) are sweeter and can be eaten raw. Select those with a plump, grape-like texture.

STORING

Firm cooking gooseberries will keep (unwashed) in the fridge for a week or two. They also freeze well. Softer dessert gooseberries are less durable: keep refrigerated and eat within two or three days.

PREPARING

Peel away the husk (if present) and rinse. Pat dry and top and tail the berries with scissors.

Gooseberries can vary quite a bit in sharpness; be prepared to adjust the amount of sugar specified in recipes.

Some Yummy & Healthy Recipes

Gooseberry Fool

6 servings

Active Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 1/2 hours

INGREDIENTS

2 cups nonfat vanilla yogurt

1 pint gooseberries, topped and tailed

3/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon water

1/2 teaspoon rose water

1/2 cup whipping cream

PREPARATION

Line a colander with cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Spoon in yogurt and let drain in the refrigerator until it measures 1 1/2 cups, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, combine gooseberries, sugar and water in a heavy saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until the berries are very soft, about 5 to 10 minutes. Puree in a food processor, then press the puree though a coarse-meshed sieve set over a mixing bowl, pressing hard to force everything but the seeds through the sieve. Stir in rose water. Chill until cold, about 30 minutes.

Once the yogurt has drained, transfer it to a medium bowl. Partially fold the pureed gooseberries into the drained yogurt, leaving some swirls of puree and yogurt. Whip the cream and swirl it into the fool. Spoon into individual dessert dishes or goblets.

NUTRITION

Per serving: 254 calories; 7 g fat ( 4 g sat , 2 g mono ); 23 mg cholesterol; 45 g carbohydrates; 6 g protein; 1 g fiber; 63 mg sodium; 333 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Calcium (16% daily value)

Carbohydrate Servings: 3

Exchanges: 1 fat-free milk, 1 1/2 other carbohydrate, 1 fat

Information courtesy of  Eat the Seasons, Diet Health Club and recipes courtesy of Eating Well.

You may also like:

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Blueberries

Cranberries

Blackberries

To read more from Lauren, check out Lauren’s Thoughts!

© Copyright 2011  Allison Stuart Kaplan  www.Askinyourface.com LLC

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Comments

  1. Lauren, can I hire you to be my private chef of healthy goodies?!

  2. I love your comments! But I’m no chef – just a writer :)

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