This is our first year harvesting gooseberries and are they ever yummy! We planted them three years go. Last year it looked like we were going to have a good crop. But I didn’t keep a close eye on them ripening and the next thing I knew the birds and rabbits had eaten almost all of them, leaving us just a handful. Over the last several days I have picked about 1/2 of what was on the bushes. About 1/4 are a couple days from being fully ripe and another 1/4 are still pretty green. It looks like I’ll get at least one, possibly two batches of gooseberry jam out of these. Or maybe a pie?
One more plug for these really cool gloves: These lightweight gloves were perfect for picking gooseberries. They protected me from most (but not all) of the barbs in gooseberry bushes (they have HUGE barbs!) and yet were lightweight enough that I could pick berries without squishing them. They might be a bithard to find at your garden center now and encourage them to stock the Bellingham Exceptionally Cool Gloves, model number: C2603AP. I’ve found two online sources: Greg Roberts Pet Supply and Mid Hardware. It looks like Mid Hardware has lower prices (but I don’t know how the prices compare when you factor in shipping.)
UPDATE: I made one batch of jam yesterday and a pie today. By the end of this week I might have enough berries for another batch of jam. Gooseberries are a bit labor intensive: First you have to pick them and they are thorny. But if you wear gloves, it’s not too bad. (By the way, whoever thought you should pick these when they are green is just nuts. They have a much sweeter, richer flavor when they are a dark red/purple.) Then, after washing them, you have to take the stems off–one at each end of the berry. Be ready to use them after washing and de-stemming because they start to deteriorate fast. If you don’t have enough for a recipe, you can freeze them for later use.
But the work is worth it. They make a wonderful jam with a rich berry flavor. For making the jam, I followed the instructions for making blueberry jam because the gooseberries have a similar size and flesh as blueberries. With the pie recipe I tried, the filling was a little too runny. It’s a tart pie, very much like sour cherries. (Which is funny because the jam was certainly sweet and so are the berries.) With the next pie I’m going to try a different recipe I saw that uses tapioca as a thickener. But I actually think it would make a better cobbler or crisp than a pie.
If you don’t want to grow gooseberries, I hope you’ll find a friend who has them and will let you pick at least enough to make a pie. It’s well worth the effort.