Get to know the gooseberry and celebrate it all summer long!

By Victoria Spencer
Updated June 02, 2021
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Have you tried gooseberries yet? They're those thin-skinned green or red berries that you see at the farmers' market in the summer before getting distracted by the other fruit. It's always strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, or blackberries that get the glory this time of year. Even its cousin the currant receives more attention than the gooseberry. It's fitting, then, that the word gooseberry also refers to a third wheel, because that describes its standing in the berry category perfectly—gooseberries are never included in a mixed-berry dessert, but that doesn't mean they don't deserve a starring role! We're here to sing the praises of gooseberries and inspire you to try them in one of the recipes below.

First and foremost, it' important to know that the gooseberry is part of the currant family, and they're shaped like mini globes. They can be as small as a pea or as big as a small plum, and they range in color from green to lavender to a deep red. What is noticeable in all gooseberries is the veins in the skin of the fruit.

gooseberries closeup
Credit: Marcus Nilsson

What Do They Taste Like?

Gooseberries have a nice crunch and their tart flavor is sometimes likened to rhubarb or to a cross between a kiwi and a grape. Different varieties vary widely in sweetness, with green gooseberries being more sour than red. The sweeter gooseberries make an excellent snack, Thomas Joseph, our culinary director and Kitchen Conundrums expert, keeps a stash in the freezer for "snacking-like frozen grapes—but more tart." Most preparations call for cooking gooseberries—and adding sugar. Think gooseberry crumble and gooseberry fool, classic British desserts (the Brits are big on gooseberries).

How to Prep and Use Them

Prep gooseberries for cooking by top and tailing them (snip off the stem and the flower ends from each gooseberry with kitchen scissors or shears), then rinse them. Senior food editor Lauryn Tyrell recommends treating gooseberries like rhubarb and substituting them for rhubarb in a savory chutney. Sarah Carey, our editorial director of food, says go sweet. She likes using gooseberries for preserving, like in this Gooseberry Jam—they are high in pectin, which jams and jellies need to set—or for a refreshing summer sorbet.

cut gooseberry tart
Credit: Marcus Nilsson

Gooseberry Tart

Inspired by Martha's berry garden (of course our founder has been growing gooseberries for years), Sarah developed a Gooseberry Tart recipe that puts the fruit front and center. Flaky, butter-rich pâte sucrée (sweet piecrust) is filled with a combination of red and green gooseberries and baked until beautifully burnished. The filling is then brushed with jelly (Sarah likes currant, or for a sweeter tart, apricot) to give the fruit a glossy sheen.

As part of our triple-testing recipe development process, assistant food editor Riley Wofford baked the tart two more times. Her top tips: Adjust the amount of sugar depending on the type and ratio of gooseberries you use-green are more sour than red. And if you're in a rush, skip trimming—the little stems dissolve during baking. Lauryn pronounced the tart "perfect for people who don't love really sweet desserts. It's bracingly sour but still has a little bit of sweetness." She just happens to be one of those people and appreciated the bright-tasting, almost lemony gooseberry filling. Riley added that the tart is a "conversation piece. Your guests will definitely be asking you what it is when you serve it."

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