Gooseberries have always seemed so British. Over there, no fruit lover would be without a gooseberry bush. Here in America, however, gooseberries are not as well known. But this has not always been the case. Early settlers brought European varieties to the New World, eventually hybridizing them with native American species.
The first hybrid, ‘Houghton’, debuted at the 1847 meeting of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. Other varieties with American “blood” soon followed, and gooseberry growing and breeding in America was on the rise. As Edward Bunyard said in The Anatomy of Dessert in 1934, “the Gooseberry is of course the fruit par excellence for ambulant consumption.”
My first experience with gooseberries was while reading a 19th century cookbook description that said “You must tip and tail the green hairy gooseberries.” Well that got my attention. Tip and Tail?? Green, Hairy Gooseberries?? I was hooked I had to find out what these berries were all about. So I planted a gooseberry bush and with the first harvest I was hooked on these amazing berries. They are green (but then turn purple later in the season). They are hairy – just look close and you will see the small hairs. They have to tipped & tailed which makes them a labor of love – but they are worth the effort.
Gooseberries are two times a labor of love, in the picking and the prepping. Gooseberries have really long, spiky thorns so you have to love gooseberries to pick them despite the thorns. And they require “Tipping & Tailing” in preparation to use them as the stem will not pull off. To tip and tail – snip off the stem and the flower ends from each one with some kitchen scissors or a knife. Then they are ready for your favorite recipe.
- Pie dough for two (top and bottom) 9 inch pie crusts
- 2 pints gooseberries, tipped and tailed (approx. 4-5 cups of berries)
- 3 TB cornstarch
- 2-3 TB butter, cut into small pieces
- 1-2 cups sugar, to taste
- 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1-2 TB of milk for glazing
Preheat oven to 425. Roll out the bottom pie crust and place it in a 9 inch pie plate. Patch any holes and trim edges the edges to about 3/4 of an inch all around. Refrigerate.
To make the gooseberry filling, combine the berries, the cornstarch, the lemon juice and 1 cup of sugar in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, mashing the berries slightly, until the berries begin to release some juice and the mixture thickens. (As you cook the filling, taste it periodically and add more sugar as needed. Gooseberries can vary from really tart to almost sweet) Remove the filling from the heat.
Roll out the crust for the top of the pie. Pour the fruit filling into the pie plat and spread evenly. Dot with butter. Lightly moisten the edges of the bottom crust with water. Place top crust on top of the pie and pinch the edges of the top and bottom crust together. Crimp in a decorative manner. Carefully cut three or four steam vents in the top crust. Feel free to use any excess dough to make decorations, like my leaves and berries above. Gently brush top crust with milk to ensure a golden brown color.
Place pie on a cookie sheet and place it in the oven. Keep a close eye on the pie so that the edges of the crust does not burn! I cover mine loosely with foil after only a short time. After 30 minutes, turn down the heat to 350 and bake for 20-30 minutes more until thick juices bubble through the steam vents. Cool and serve with whipped cream or à la mode.
- 4 cups gooseberries ( tipped n’tailed and washed)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup self raising flour
- 1 cup caster sugar
- 1 cup plain flour
- 1/3 cup icing sugar
- 1/3 cup butter ( I use salted but margarine or unsalted also work)
Grease a 13×9 pan with butter, then cover in tin foil and grease foil again with butter. For the base, sift together the dry ingredients and then cut in the butter until the mixture is like coarse crumbs. Press onto tin foil. Bake in an oven at 180′ for 10 minutes or until pale golden in colour. Remove from oven. Mix together eggs, sugar, vanilla and flour. Then you can either roughly chop gooseberries and mix in or toss in gooseberries whole and mulch up with your hands (latter gives a more integrated flavour but it is messy). Pour wet mix onto base and put back in the oven for approx 35 minutes or until the top is nicely firm and the berries are showing up brown in places.
- 1/2 c. butter
- 1 c. sugar
- 1/4 c. flour
- 1 tsp. almond extract
- 1/2 c. water
- 4 c. gooseberries
- 1 c. sugar
- 1 c. flour
- 1 tbsp. oil
- 1 egg
FILLING: Melt butter in 9″x13″ baking dish. Combine sugar and flour. Mix almond extract and water and add to sugar mixture; add berries. Pour into pan.
TOPPING: Sift sugar and flour. Mix egg and oil, making crumbly. Put on berry mixture and bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes.