Mmm, gooseberries. I have not yet seen a gooseberry in the US, never mind in California; do I have to grow my own?
But you wanted a trio, so these: gooseberry fool, as a way to end a dinner; gooseberry tart, for a more serious dessert (and it should be tart, in the same way that sour cherries make the best pie); and gooseberry sauce with mackerel, where the sharpness of the fruit cuts through the richness of the fish.
I saw them for the first time since I was small, this year at my local farmers market in Boston. I hope they're back next year.
I know they'll grow in California, because when I was hiking the John Muir Trail we found them growing wild all through the area the Rainbow Falls fire had burned over, and I snacked on them as we walked. I'm afraid this doesn't help you find them grown, though, especially the cultivated varieties which aren't covered in prickles.
Ohhh, gooseberry sauce with mackerel is something I had never considered. It sounds heavenly. I bet it works with sour cherries or lingonberries too...
They do grow here--Stella gets them sometimes and makes jam--but they are rare, and growing them yourself is the most straightforward way of getting them in non-jam form. Even in jam form, not common--but I can find cloudberry preserves, and fresh cloudberries, it is to laugh. So.
Gooseberries used to be illegal or might still be illegal in the US because of carrying or being suspected of carrying a rust that attacks white pines. I forget the whole story, but imagine Wikipedia knows.
I love gooseberries. Things to do:
Just eat them! But they need to be ripe, meaning the berries are usually a nice dark red, not the unripe green which I think was my first introduction to them. They're still tart when ripe, but much sweeter. They remind me quite a bit of kiwis in taste, texture, and sour/sweet ratio, but more flavorful.
Gooseberry pie! Standard Joy of Cooking berry pie recipe, with maybe a bit of extra sugar, and lots of extra sugar if you're using green gooseberries. (But why would you do that?) Haven't actually done this one myself, I'm afraid -- I'd intended to, and then saw that ripe gooseberries were going for $6/half-pint at my local farmers' market, and decided that $36 for one pie was more than I could stomach, no pun intended. But it's really very hard to go wrong with a berry pie. Maybe next year. Gooseberry jam, same deal.
Just eat them! But they need to be ripe, meaning the berries are usually a nice dark red, not the unripe green which I think was my first introduction to them.
In the UK, it's more than a first introduction: it is considered the natural state of the berry. I was a mature adult before I even understood there was anywhere else for them to go; the first dark red ones I met, I was convinced I was being misinformed. How could these be gooseberries? Wrong colour, and sweet! - clearly a different fruit altogether. And that was from a friend's garden; I don't think I've ever seen ripe ones in a market. We buy them green and cook them green and that's that, essentially. Very, um, British...
There are gooseberries which stay green. In fact, I think they're more common in the UK than the red varieties, or at least more traditional. They also tend to be more oval and hairier.
I prefer the red gooseberries in my garden cooked, but you can eat them raw if you want to. The sort my parents and great-aunt grew would try to turn your mouth inside out if you just bit into them, but were still very good jammed or in a crumble.
Two years ago, one of my co-workers brought me half a 5 gallon bucket of elderberries. They're a pain to process, but yummy.
Things I did with them:
1) Made tincture (there are a bunch of recipes for this, but I am having trouble tracking down the one I used right now. Basically, pour elderberries in glass jar, cover with alcohol, cap - I did vodka, and now I want to try gin - turning the jar over a couple of times a day for 6 weeks. At the end, strain, pour back into bottle. You can then add sugar or honey to taste. You can also add lemon or orange peel, or spices. http://www.loveandwildhoney.com/archives/455
has instructions and suitable "You might want to avoid if" warnings.
It is not bad as a mixed drink thing (I do some with fizzy water, periodically) but what it's really excellent for (if you can have alcohol) is a tablespoon or so every hour or two when you feel a cold coming on, and then 3 times a day after the first few times. It's been reducing symptoms dramatically for me.
(I understand the strained berries soaked in vodka go really nicely over ice cream, too.)
2) I also made elderberry syrup: boil the berries until they make juice, strain, add equal part sugar to make a syrup while you boil the liquid, be very careful not to burn yourself with hot sugary stuff. Bottle. You can take it like the tincture at the first sign of colds, and it is also yummy in fizzy water.
Also, of course, elderberry wine. And elderflower wine, come to that.
Oh, and I'm sure I've eaten grouse with an elderberry sauce. Also elderberry/apple pancakes. And there must be more foodwise one could do...
I find elderberries on their own too strong and pippy (is that a word?). But add a handful of elderberries when you're cooking apples (or pears), for pie or crumble or just stewed...
By the longest pair of stockings I own, I swear that pippy is a word.
I have a gooseberry bush and a red currant bush. Friends have made gooseberry pie and pronounced it good. I don't know if one could take a cutting and root it from either bush, but I'd welcome the attempt. I'd be willing to negotiate either being transplanted so I could put in more raspberries.
Mpls area friends, take note! I am no gardener, so magentamn
would be sending these lovely plants to their doom, but if someone else can negotiate with her for them, it sounds like it'd be all for the best for everyone.
My gooseberry bush seems quite keen to root from low-hanging branches, so I'm guessing a cutting would work. Or you could peg down some branches and dig them up when they grow roots - that's how I got my bush in the first place.
I have to say, from experience, that transplanting a mature gooseberry bush can be quite painful, though. The roots are strong and the stems bite!
Black currants make amazing jam. Dried red or black currants go in scones, but I don't know about the fresh kind. It seems a shame to dry them if you actually get them fresh. I've also got a seriously alarming gingerbread recipe that calls for both dried currants and stout.
You are my go-to source for exceptional gingerbread recipes, Pam. I made cordial with the black currents I bought a few weeks ago. It is no ribena, but serves well enough in champagne cocktails.
Mary Dirty Face Farm sells gooseberries and black and red currants at the Fulton Farmer's Market, though the season is now over for their berries. Not sure about elderberries.
We have both red currants and green gooseberries, and every year they baffle me and mostly end up going to seed. I did have some success with making a chicken piccata-like dish and adding a handful of currants.
I've been focusing on fresh produce with this series, but go ahead and talk about dried if you have theories that are tasty.
Currants - Summer Pudding. If you are organised put your currants in a bowl with enough sugar to sweeten and leave overnight, if you have forgotten to do this warm your currants with enough sugar until the juice runs, leave to cool. Line a pudding basin with crustless slices of good bread (definitely NOT sliced white pap) put half the currants in then a layer of bread, the rest of the currants and a sealing layer of bread. Cover with cling film and weigh down over night. Ready when the juices have seeped into the bread and stained it all. It is wise to save a little currant juice in case there is a persistent bit of white bread showing.
This sounds odd, but it is the most glorious pudding served with pouring cream or for real indulgence clotted cream. It is a classic and you'll find it in almost every British cookery book. Fantstic made with a mix of berries or all raspberries, although that does look a little anaemic.
Sling currants in brandy with some sugar and leave to infuse to make Creme de Cassis, essential for Kir (with white wine) or if you are flush Kir Royale (with champagne), but it can be drunk on it's own if you don't make it too sweet. The brandy soaked currants are jolly good with ice cream or you can make them into a boozey jam.
I love gooseberry pie, eaten cold on it's own on a hot day. If it's cold day a gooseberry crumble with custard is very comforting.
I've made gooseberry chutney substituting them for the plums in a plum chutney recipe and it was lovely, good with that sharp cheddar!
substitute red currant juice for cranberry in a cosmopolitan.</p>
cook currants with wine mulling spices, then make jelly, serve with duck or other game birds.
bake currants with custard in a shortbread crust. reminiscent of rhubarb custard pie except with seeds.
1) make jam, or even better, make jam and put elderflower cordial in it just before pouring into jars
2) stew with plenty of sugar, eat the fruit with cream/ice-cream/custard AND save the syrup to put into gin and tonic
3) make crumble
1) make jam
2) stew with just enough sugar and no extra water. Ripple through cream or thick yoghurt.
3) blackcurrant and orange sorbet: stew blackcurrants as above, cool to fridge temperature, add orange zest and a bit of its juice and enough icing (powdered) sugar to make it slightly sweeter than you'd like it. Freeze, ideally churning as you would for ice cream, but it's still edible if you don't.
Elderberries were one of my grandpa's favorite uncommon fruits--you don't get them out of season--you have to mark out the white flowers (kind of like Queen Anne's Lace) on the bushes in the marshy areas in the spring and remember to come back and collect them in the fall.
They are a pain in the butt, however, to de-elderberry the stem clusters; it is claimed that it is "easy to do with a fork" but this is simply the kind of easy that means "it's faster than one by one-ing it."
In any case, for Grandpa, we baked them into an apple pie with extra sugar. Because they're a bit much on their own.