Food History, Retro Recipes, Vintage Recipes

Gooseberry Fool (1940s)

I am fascinated by the culinary backstory of gooseberries. This funny little fruit, with its acquired taste, is so versatile. It is just as tasty in a pudding or jam as it is in a sauce when accompanying fish or meat. But my favourite recipe is gooseberry fool. In fact, as a child a gooseberry fool was the only way my mother could get me to eat ‘gozzies’, as I used to call them.

Gooseberry season begins this month and lasts until August. I am lucky to be supplied with gooseberries each year via a family member who has a mature bush in their garden. Each year my relatives enter into a race to pick the fruit before it is eaten by their friendly, yet rather greedy, blackbird!

I have tried recreating many historic recipes for gooseberry fool, modern, Georgian, Victorian and a selection from last century. By far the best recipe, in my view, can be found in Practical Cookery For All by Blanche Anding et al, published circa 1949. I am delighted to share that recipe here with you. It is a really easy recipe to make, even for the most nervous of retro gastronomists. It is also a perfect dish for a dinner party finale.

Ingredients: 1 lb green gooseberries; 4 ozs sugar; ¼ pint water; custard (about 1 cupful) or whipped cream [300 ml]; sponge fingers (optional); tin of mandarin segments (optional).

  1. Pick gooseberries [wash thoroughly and remove stalks];
  2. Dissolve sugar in the water and put into a pan with the gooseberries;
  3. Stew mixture until soft;
  4. Put gooseberry mixture through a sieve;
  5. Sweeten the pulp further with more sugar, if desired;
  6. When cold, mix with some whipped cream or custard;
  7. Pour into glasses and garnish with sponge fingers (optional)/gooseberry halves/mandarin segments;
  8. Recipe is enough for 4 persons.


2 thoughts on “Gooseberry Fool (1940s)”

  1. Made my mouth water!I remember my Grandmother making Gooseberry fool.Same recipe I think.

    1. Hi David, thanks so much for your comment. Gooseberry fool is delicious:) Gooseberries all but disappeared from supermarkets in the 1990s and early 2000s but in recent years they have made a comeback. My local garden centre have a large range of bushes to plant, red gooseberries are delicious too. You are right, gooseberry fool reminds me of my childhood. Kind regards Emma

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