I had barely even heard of gooseberries before I came to England – they weren’t commonly available in Ontario back then. However, once I arrived in the UK it wasn’t long before I discovered the delights of gooseberry jam, gooseberry pie and gooseberry fool – all of which I loved.
Nowadays you can get gooseberries fairly easily at farm shops and some grocery stores in both the UK and North America. However, if you’ve never seen a gooseberry, you can see below that they are kind of curious looking.
They have funny little stems (tops and tails) on each end and they can be kind of fuzzy. Normally a bright, jewel-like green, you can also find red, pink and even purple gooseberries from time to time. They are not the sort of fruit you want to eat raw – before they are cooked gooseberries are almost unbearably sharp and tart. Like rhubarb, gooseberries are best served lightly stewed.
Incidentally, while the Canadian in me would pronounce the name of this fruit as ‘Gooseberries’, saying ‘goose’ like the bird and ‘berry’ as well, ‘berry’, here in England it’s pronounced ‘Guzburry’. I’ve never quite understood this. Okay, ‘berry’ is pronounced ‘burry’ in most parts of England but we say ‘goose’ similarly to North Americans when referring to the species of bird. It’s just one of those great British mysteries – like why ‘Derby’ is pronounced ‘Darby’, ‘shire’ as ‘sheer’ and ‘Birmingham’ as ‘Birmingum’.
Anyway, despite how much I loved gooseberry fool, jam and pie, I never really felt comfortable preparing this curious little fruit myself. Then last year I found some gooseberries at a farm shop not far from where we live called Q Gardens. I asked about how to cook them and Katie from the shop explained. Once you’ve topped and tailed the gooseberries they can be cooked whole in pies and crumble recipes just like blueberries. Topping and tailing just means to cut the tiny brown stem from the top and the little green ‘tail’ from the bottom of the berry. This is easily done with scissors. If you want to make Gooseberry Fool, you need to gently cook the berries first with a little water and some sugar. Once you they are soft and broken down, the puree you are left with is lovely served over cereal or mixed into yogurt as well as being used to make my favourite Gooseberry Fool recipe.
Fool is a classic English dessert traditionally made with sweetened cream and pureed fruit. It’s been around since the sixteenth century and it’s a great way to use up fruit that it is a bit over ripe or on the tart side. My recipe incorporates yogurt to try to make it a bit healthier. I say ‘try’ because you really do need to add sugar to gooseberries and as the other ingredient is double (heavy) cream, making this dessert healthy is a bit of a gargantuan task. It does however, taste delicious, and in moderation it’s just lovely.
Fools can be prepared a few hours in advance of serving, so they are great for entertaining as it’s easy to make them ahead. They are very rich though, so a little goes a long way. I like to serve the Gooseberry Fool in martini glasses. The fool turns a lovely light green shade due to the colour of the berries so it looks particularly pretty garnished with fresh mint.
Gooseberry Fool can be served with Pistachio Crescents or other light cookies or biscuits alongside if you like.
- 2 cups fresh gooseberries, washed, topped and tailed
- 4 tablespoons granulated or caster sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- ¼ cup St Germain liqueur or undiluted elderflower cordial
- 1½ cups double (heavy) cream
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ cup plain or vanilla yogurt
- fresh mint leaves to garnish
- Place the prepared gooseberries in a saucepan.
- Stir in the 4 tablespoons of sugar and water.
- Heat over a very low heat, stirring frequently, until the fruit begins to break apart. This will take between 10 and 15 minutes.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir the gooseberries, breaking any remaining pieces of fruit down so that it becomes a rough puree. Don't worry about the seeds. They are very soft and completely edible.
- Let the mixture cool. When cool, refrigerate for at least an hour or up to 24 hours.
- Remove the gooseberry puree from the fridge.
- Drain away any runny liquid using a sieve.
- Stir the St Germain liqueur or elderflower cordial into the gooseberry puree.
- Whip the cream and the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.
- Whip in the yogurt.
- Fold the gooseberry puree very gently into the cream and yogurt mixture. You want to be able to see ripples of gooseberry puree.
- Spoon gently into 6 serving dishes.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve (up to 4 hours).
- Garnish with mint leaves before serving.
St Germain is a liqueur made from elderflowers.
If you enjoyed this post you may also like Turkish Delight Syllabub.
Disclosure: This page contains an affiliate link. Full disclosure policy.