Yesterday I picked 5lb 5oz of fruit off the modestly-sized gooseberry bush in our garden in Dinas Powys. After the picking, and topping-and-tailing, my hands felt a little worse for wear, but it has set us up for a few gooseberry crumbles, and stewed gooseberry with yoghurts, over the coming year. I also like a spoonful of chilled stewed gooseberry with my lunchtime mackerel.
Gooseberry (Ribes grossularia) is related to blackcurrants (R. nigrum) and redcurrants (R. sativum). There are hundreds of recorded varietal names for R. grossularia, although many varieties have been lost as gooseberry cultivation has declined in recent times. It was a very popular fruit in the past, especially in northern industrial towns in late 18th and early 19th-Century England; where gooseberry clubs were established, whose members would compete to grow the largest and best-flavoured gooseberry. There were 171 gooseberry clubs at the peak of their popularity in 1845. The tradition is still alive today, at the Egton Bridge Old Gooseberry Show in North Yorkshire.
I have frozen several batches of my gooseberries, and am about to make a gooseberry crumble for dinner tonight.
Leslie Johns and Violet Stevenson (1979) The Complete Book of Fruit. Angus & Robertson Publishers.
Bee Wilson (2008) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/foodanddrinkadvice/3343753/The-kitchen-thinker-Gooseberries.html
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Laura Mason and Catherine Brown (2010) The Taste of Britain. HarperCollins.