Monday, August 8, 2011

The Problem With Gooseberries

It was probably our second year on the farm, maybe our third, that we discovered we had a small patch of gooseberries.  They were back against the south shelter belt in a naturalized area, mixed with native dogwood, self-seeded maples and assorted weeds and native flowers.  Gooseberry is not a berry I know much about, although I read in cookbooks and on blogs about 'divine' gooseberry jam or chutney.  The next few years the deer got to them before we did, last year I just completely forgot about them until it was too late!  This year they were absolutely in my sights.  In my reading, I learned that younger, green berries will make a nice tart jam but it's well worth the wait to have some ripen to pink.  The jam will be prettier and a little sweeter.  So, I've been watching and waiting and decided today was the day!

As a newbie gooseberry picker, I soon discovered the problem with gooseberries.  They are low, sprawling, brambles covered in big thorns.  Big nasty thorns!  Really tricky to get to those berries!  I have been poked, prodded, my jeans have been caught and my hands scratched!  To make things even more interesting, I discovered a bit of stinging nettle has grown up among the branches.  Good thing it has been a cool morning and I had long sleeves on.  It is not a berry for commercial picking: they do not ripen all at once, like raspberries.  There were little hard green ones, big plump green berries and some big plump pink ones, all mixed all over the branches.  It wasn't a great harvest, only about a quarter of an ice cream pail.  I'm going to use this recipe here from the blog 'thekitchen' because it is proportional, so I don't have to worry about dividing a recipe, weighing etc.  Fingers crossed I'll get at least two pints of jam! 


  1. I just put in a gooseberry tree and haven't never had a chance to actually pick them. I normally get given a large bag, about 2-3 lbs of berries pre-picked and frozen. Now I'm even more grateful for them.

  2. Thorns mixed with stinging nettle! ouch. You must have really wanted those berries.

  3. Yes, gloves and long sleeves are essential when picking gooseberries. Several years ago I had gooseberry sauce or relish with cooked duck and it was delightful!