One of the less-cherished summer fruits, gooseberries are a tart green berry that make a delicious addition to both sweet and savoury dishes when cooked and sweetened a little. They come in many varieties, ranging in size, colour and acidity. Gooseberries available in supermarkets tend to be the more tart green varieties, which are ideal for cooking. However, sweeter golden and red dessert varieties can sometimes be found in farm shops too, and eaten straightaway without cooking.
Gooseberries are often added to drinks and desserts as a compote or purée, as well as being made into jams, chutneys and sauces in savoury dishes. They pair especially well with other seasonal fruits such as elderflowers and strawberries, along with citrus fruits. Take a look at our collection of gooseberry recipes for more inspiration.
When to pick gooseberries
An early summer fruit, gooseberries start coming into season in May and are at their best in June and July. The growing and ripening season is relatively short, so make sure to pick them quickly while ripe. As gooseberry bushes are prickly, we advise wearing gloves or protective clothing.
For more advice, read our beginner's guide to foraging.
How to prepare gooseberries
- Rinse the gooseberries thoroughly in cold water before topping and tailing the ends with scissors.
- Most recipes use gooseberry compote, a mixture of gooseberries and sugar reduced down with a splash of water until soft and pulpy.
- Gooseberries vary wildly in sweetness, so the ratio really depends on personal taste. Start with two parts gooseberry to one part sugar and adapt to suit your palate.
How to freeze gooseberries
- Gooseberries are relatively easy to freeze due to their firm texture. Ideally freeze as soon as possible after picking or when they are ripe.
- Wash thoroughly to remove debris and cut off the stalks.
- Place the gooseberries on a tray and spread out so they don't bunch together.
- Put in the freezer for 1-2 hours or until frozen, then separate and portion into freezer bags. Tie the bag(s) tightly to remove as much air as possible, then label and place in the lowest part of the freezer to ensure the gooseberries freeze quickly.
- To separate the berries further, you could give the bag a little shake after an hour, before returning to the freezer. If planning to make compote or purée, it doesn't matter if they are stuck together though.
What to do with gooseberries
Raw gooseberries are often rather unpalatable; however, when cooked and sweetened a little, they become deliciously tangy. So, why not get creative with all manner of dishes, from jams and chutneys, to drinks and desserts? Here are our top recipe tips:
Gooseberries pair well with citrus fruits and elderflower. Make our gooseberry & mint lemonade for a refreshing summer drink or try adding a spoonful of the compote to elderflower cordial with a little fresh ginger.
Transform gooseberry purée in a delicately sparkling, floral cocktail by mixing it with chilled prosecco to create a simple gooseberry & elderflower fizz. Fancy making your own spirits at home? Try our elderflower & gooseberry vodka for a fruity and fragrant infusion. Homemade gooseberry gin also makes a satisfying summer tipple – enjoy it neat, with tonic or mixed with sparkling water.
Once you've created your compote, try sandwiching a spoonful and some cream in a sponge cake. Our luxurious gooseberry jam, muscat & mascarpone cake uses ready-made gooseberry jam in the boozy filling but you could also sub in homemade. This tart fruit also balances well with creamy coconut yogurt in our gooseberry coconut cake and adds an extra kick to citrussy bakes such as our gooseberry & orange drizzle cake.
Gooseberry fool and trifle
Gooseberries make a great addition to creamy desserts. Layer up homemade gooseberry and elderflower purée with mascarpone cream and fluffy sponges to make a spectacular gooseberry & elderflower trifle. Or, whip up a yogurt-based gooseberry fool in just 20 minutes. This fruity syllabub makes an easy last-minute dinner party dessert and can also be mixed with elderflower.
Gooseberry ice cream and sorbets
Gooseberry compote can work wonders in a range of frozen desserts. Our easy gooseberry ice cream makes a cooling family dessert on balmy summer days. Simply add your purée to homemade custard and churn in an ice cream maker until thick and silky. Or, round off a dinner party with this sophisticated gooseberry, elderflower & sauvignon sorbet for a light palate cleanser.
Turn a glut of seasonal gooseberries into a showstopping dessert. With a blowtorched, crispy sugar topping, creamy filling and sweet pastry case, this gooseberry crème brûlée tart is sure to impress a crowd. Equally impressive, our gooseberry & vanilla custard tart makes an exciting summertime twist on a classic dessert.
Gooseberry pie is an easy way to sign off Sunday lunch, but try getting creative with puff pastry, too. Layer up baked pastry sheets with gooseberry compote and custard for a speedy pudding that'll wow the crowds. Our mini gooseberry bakewell pies are also deliciously crumbly, sweet and simple to make, or try our gooseberry & custard pies for a taste of summer combined with delicate, smooth vanilla custard – an instant win. Strawberries and gooseberries make another winning combination in this gorgeous patchwork pie. It's well worth the effort to make your own pastry for the decorative topping.
Fancy desserts have their place, but the humble crumble is hard to beat. Treat the family to a comforting gooseberry crumble, or, if you wish to tone down the sharpness of these green berries, try our gooseberry flapjack crumble which combines them with sweet apples. For another warming pud, this gooseberry cobbler goes down nicely with a dollop of ice cream.
Add a little gooseberry sparkle to meringues by spooning over the compote along with whipped double cream. These nutty brown sugar meringues with gooseberry compote & cream make a satisfying gluten-free summer dessert. Try a twist on lemon meringue pie with our stunning gooseberry meringue tart, or give a pavlova a makeover by swapping the strawberries for gooseberry and elderflower cream.
As they have a tantalisingly short season, there are few better ways to use a large crop of gooseberries than in a preserve. Set aside an afternoon in the kitchen making our classic gooseberry jam and get creative with additional ingredients in the following combinations: gooseberry & vanilla jam or gooseberry & chamomile jam.
Want to jazz up your cheeseboard? This tangy spiced gooseberry chutney is perfect for cutting through creamy cheeses such as brie and camembert, and will give goat's cheese an even more feisty kick. Enjoy with crackers as a post-dinner treat or give the chutney as an edible gift.
Savoury gooseberry sauces and salads
Gooseberries aren't just great for desserts – they work equally well as part of a savoury main meal. Pair grilled mackerel with pickled gooseberry ketchup for a light dinner party dish, or partner with other oily fish, like salmon, alongside seasonal greens. Gooseberries also combine well with flavours like soy, chilli and fish sauce to achieve a hot and sour taste in this barbecued soy pork salad with gooseberry dressing.
Still not inspired? Check out our collection of gooseberry recipes for more ideas.
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Let us know your top tips for cooking gooseberries and the best way to serve this under-appreciated fruit.