Wednesday’s In the Know: Gooseberries
A few weeks ago, I was in Seattle visiting family and came upon the most gorgeous, yet unique, looking berries. I wasn’t sure what they were; possibly a cross-bred grape? Of course my curious nature had to ask what they were. “Gooseberries”, he said. “Would you like to try then?” Naturally, I couldn’t resist.
Gooseberries, as it turns out, are quite interesting in flavor and texture. They are sweet, but not too sweet, and almost offer a slight ever so subtle tanginess. The kind of tanginess that lingers in the back of your throat and you almost question if it is there. I bought a pint as I knew it would make for a great blog post and enjoyed taking pictures of them on our veranda.
So, what are gooseberries after all?
Gooseberries, small and round in shape – like a grape – are part of the currant family but only resemble them in its shape not size! Containing hundreds of itty bitty seeds inside, they can range in color from almost black to purple, yellow, green, and even pink.
According to Cornell University, there are two types of gooseberries: American (Ribes hirtellum) and European (Ribes uva-crispa).
- American: Cultivars of the American type are smaller but more resistant to mildew. They tend to be healthier and more productive. American cultivars include:
- Poorman: One of the largest of the American cultivars. Productive and vigorous, with medium-sized but high-quality fruit. It is a good cultivar for the home garden.
- Oregon Champion: Medium to large yellow-green berries. Excellent for processing.
- Hinnonmaki Red and Hinnonmaki Yellow: Medium-sized red and green fruit, respectively.
- Captivator: A cross of American and European cultivars, has red, tear-drop-shaped fruit. Nearly thornless and mildew-resistant.
- Pixwell: Easy to propagate, commonly sold and very productive cultivar developed in North Dakota in 1932. Low, 3-foot bushes with small thorns are very hardy and bear medium-sized fruit that starts out green and turns purple upon ripening.
- European: The fruits of the European cultivars are larger and better flavored. They include:
- Invicta: Considered by some to be the best gooseberry available in North America. Resistant to mildew, but susceptible to leaf spot. Very large fruit with bland flavor.
- Leveller and Careless: The standards for British fruit production. Yellow- and green-fruited respectively.
- Early Sulfur: Yellow, hairy fruit with good flavor, but susceptible to mildew.
- Catherina: Large green fruit.
- Achilles: Large red fruit.
Although we may be nearing the end of gooseberry season, if you can get your hands on them, I don’t think you will be disappointed!
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