It's not gooseberry season, but if you are anything like me, gooseberries, like blackcurrants, get picked and mostly put in the freezer for use in the cooler months. I do make some gooseberry fool with freshly picked gooseberries (perhaps i'll give you the recipe for that next season) but mostly i am busy eating and using fresh raspberries and strawberries when my gooseberries are ready for picking.
For me, gooseberries are a cold weather fruit, conjuring up images of delights such as gooseberry crumble with vanilla ice cream on a blustery winter's night.
For several seasons we've not had a gooseberry crop, as the quails gobble them up before they get anywhere near ripe. We net the raspberries and strawberries to keep the birds off, but have been remiss in doing so with the gooseberries. This year we got on to the netting of fruit nice and early, and as a result had a lovely big crop. Unfortunately, the husband can't bear to leave any fruit on the bushes, and now we have 7 two-litre containers of gooseberries in the freezer (there were 8, but i've just used one, making a triple batch of the recipe below). It seems to become my responsibility to use items thus squirreled away in the freezer, and i'm not quite sure how i'm going to dispose of such a vast quantity of gooseberries. Gooseberry crumble is nice, but 3 or 4 times over the winter quite satisfies my desire for that dish. Gooseberry fool is best made with fresh fruit. And given that i 'unintentionally' made a VAST quantity of quince chutney (see blog post for 9 April 2018), and also made our favourite feijoa chutney when the feijoas came ripe, i don't really have need of any more than a triple batch of gooseberry chutney, even factoring in the number of bottles i plan to give away. I think i will be giving away frozen gooseberries, if i can find any good homes, and if anyone has a good gooseberry recipe they are willing to share, i'd be most grateful to receive it.
This is a recipe i wrote down many years ago. It was copied from Nigella Lawson's book 'Kitchen'. I have made a few minor changes - Nigella seems to have an obsession with demerara sugar (her gooseberry crumble also uses the stuff), and given that in New Zealand at least, demerara sugar is multiple times more expensive than ordinary sugar, i have just substituted the more common or garden brown or raw sugar options here.
I've also decreased the amount of vinegar to use by 100 ml - you could probably use even less than the one cup i have suggested, which would help decrease the cooking time. Nigella's instructions say to simmer for the chutney for 30 to 40 minutes - in fact all chutney recipes i have come across suggest a similar cooking time, but i have yet to come across a chutney that is suitably thickened in that amount of time. I cooked my gooseberry chutney for 3.5 hours, and it was still a little on the runny side. In future i might consider making chutney in the slow cooker - that way it can bubble away quietly all day, without risk of burning.
From Nigella Lawson's book 'Kitchen'
Makes about 750ml
500 g gooseberries, washed and debearded
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 teaspoons deseeded red chilli, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated or finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon salt
250 g brown or raw sugar
250 ml cider vinegar
3 x 250 ml sealable jars
Put gooseberries, chopped onion, chilli, ginger, ground spices and salt into a heavy-bottomed pan (or slow cooker). Tip in the sugar and vinegar and give a good stir. Bring to a boil and cook over a medium heat at a brisk simmer several hours (3 to 5) until the mixture thickens.
Ladle into your sterilised jars, sealing with their lids, and leave to cool.
Store in a cool dark place for a couple of months to allow it to mature. Store for up to a year. Once opened, store in the fridge and use within one month.