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May 15, 2010 05:44 PM


I read something in Judith Jones' autobiography about gooseberry plants being culled in the U.S. in the 1930s(?) due to mostly false associations with some kind of tree disease.

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  1. Thanks for that info. The issue was a falsely reported white pine rust blight. The federal ban ended in 1966, but some states still have prohibition, NYnot among them.

    I just did some research on gooseberries and I could grow one in the back, next to the rhubarb. Apparently they are very prolific after the second year. Do you have them where you are?

    8 Replies
    1. re: bushwickgirl

      Gooseberry can be susceptible to mildrew but I think that's the only real disease issue. I don't have much space at home and only grow herbs in amongst the flowers (and, even then, only ones that are decorative). We're lucky in having a good pick-your-own farm a short drive away. I tend to do a couple of visit a year, stocking up the freezer with gooseberry, red & white currants, broad beans and, usually raspberries.

      1. re: Harters

        Yes, I saw the mildew warning; apparently the bushes need a breeze, or at least, "air" and not much heat to prevent that; that and good pruning and you're all set.

        It was London where I first had gooseberries; gooseberry fool it was. Currants have been making fruit popularity inroads in the US, for the last 15-20 years or so, but they're still pretty far away from mainstream at this point. <sigh>

        1. re: bushwickgirl

          You gotta have currants for a proper summer pudding - they balance the sweetness of the strawberries & raspberries. That and the big dollop of clotted cream.

          1. re: Harters

            I have red currants and goose berries. Never heard of summer pudding. What is it?

            1. re: al b. darned

              Off topic but, Summer Pudding is a classic British dessert, made with slices of white bread, pressed and layered in a bowl with berries that have been simmered with sugar, weighted for a day and unmolded. The entire affair turns berry red and is served in wedges with clotted or whipped cream.

              There are a number of recipe on the web. They contain many, but not necessarily all of these: strawberries, blueberries, red raspberries, blackberries or black currants, along with various bread products, including sourdough and angel food cake. I've never heard of summer pudding containing gooseberries. The pudding tends towards the sweeter red berries.

              Speaking of gooseberries, can you tell me a little about how to grow them, or point me to some useable links? The recent conversation has sparked my interest in possibly planting a bush in the backyard.

              1. re: bushwickgirl

                Indeed. It is one of the times when the cheap sliced white supermarket bread comes into its own. That, and for the breakfast bacon sandwich, of course.

                The secret is to hold some of the juice back to pour over when you unmould. We make it pretty much from strawberry and raspberry (or tayberry) but you do need the currants to cut the sweetness.

                1. re: Harters

                  I received an email this morning in response to a gooseberry query, from a UK gardener, who informed me that there are over 144 different cultivars of the berry just in the UK, to say nothing of the rest of Europe.

                  So far in my research, I've only seen maybe eight American varieties available in the US, as well as some European cultivars, but I haven't stopped counting. Seems like it might make it a lttle easier for me to choose which...

                  1. re: bushwickgirl

                    I'm sure the number will be accurate - just as we grow hundreds of apple varieties in the UK. Trouble is that suppliers to home growers are only going to sell a tiny proportion of that (and commerical growers even fewer - for example it's hard to find a UK grown strawberry in the supermarket that is not Elsanta).

    2. Another name for Gooseberries is the Tomatillo...Glad that's not an issue anymore, at least where I'm at. It's one of my favorite produce items and I've got some growing in my garden. Planted them last summer and I got a bumper crop, some of which are still in my freezer.

      BushwickG, you'll need at least two if you're going to grow them....

      2 Replies
      1. re: Cherylptw

        Where is tomatillo an alternate name for gooseberry? They are so totally different everywhere I have known them from plant form to size to appearance to taste.

        1. re: Eldon Kreider

          I think I understand the confusion. I have heard tomatillos referred to as cape gooseberries on occasion, and I think the misnomer comes from the fact that cape gooseberries and tomatillos are related, to say nothing of their similar appearance. The gooseberry is "is a species of Ribes, R. uva-crispa, native to Europe, northwestern Africa and southwestern Asia." The Cape Gooseberry is "Physalis peruviana, commonly known as physalis, native to South America." The tomatillo is "Physalis philadelphica... a plant of the Solanaceae (nightshade) family, related to the cape gooseberry... and grown throughout the Western Hemisphere." That should clear up the confusion. Quotes from Wiki. Cape gooseberries are edible, btw.

          Check this endless photo link array to see exactly what I'm referring to:


          Bowl of gooseberries:

          Gooseberry bush:

          Cape gooseberry:

          Gooseberry dessert, just for fun:

          Tomatillos, notice outer husk:

          Tomatillo plant:

      2. I planted about five different varieties of gooseberry when we bought our (first!) home six years ago...several fell victim to my relentless prairie winds and brutal winters, right way...a few more were eaten down by rabbits so many times, they gave up.

        My best success--and they're finally loaded with fruit!--are two Finnish types, called Hinnomaki Red and Hinnomaki Yellow. They're sturdy, stalwart, and seem problem-free. I recommend them!

        2 Replies
        1. re: Beckyleach

          I just came on this topic today-- I've been thinking about gooseberries, after someone I met at the dogpark talked about his parents' little berry business (they supply some gooseberries, but mainly raspberries and strawberries, to the St. Paul Farmers' Market-- St. Paul, MINNESOTA).

          Then today at the same park (where my dogs and I have been feasting on wild raspberries, both black and golden), I saw what I thought were gooseberries! Kind of prickly surface on the skins, which seemed suspicious in something you'd eat, but maybe they weren't ripe.

          Are you in Minnesota? Your mention of relentless prairie winds and brutal winters implies that you're around here.

          1. re: MariaJ.

            Right below you, in NW Iowa (below what we laughingly call "the Iowa Great Lakes" around here (I say this fresh from a lovely week's vacation up in the BWCA/Ely area, around some of your REAL lakes... ;-)

        2. I used to grow gooseberries in England along with lots of other berries and currants and I miss them in south Fl, can't even buy them in the store.

          prune and pick carefully the plants are very prickly! They make gorgeous jams either mixed with other fruits or alone and of course fools.

          BTW summer pudding in the UK is NEVER made with blueberries - not being a native fruit.

          1 Reply
          1. re: smartie

            No, not in the UK, but in the states blueberries are used frequently, given our outright devotion to the berry in this country. I was referring to fruits used in Summer Pudding in the US, and I should mention that black currants are not used that frequently here either, unless you've got a bush in your yard. Many US recipes just contain strawberries and raspberries, for that matter.

            Back to goosberries. The Finnish Hinnomaki types have popped up as very good possibilities, as well as Invicta. It seems like Pixwell is widely available from growers, but the reviews on the cultivar are less than stellar.

            From what I've read about growing gooseberries, I have all the right conditons in my yard for a bush or two and I'm quite excited about this project. Thanks to all who posted info, I'll let you know how it goes.