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