Christine McFadden Cookery and Food Writing
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Alternative Pancakes
A Taste of Rabbit
Beyond Carrot Cake
Bountiful Blackberries
Celebrating Celery
Cherries are the Only Fruit
Chuck, Flank and Shank
Cooking With
What You’ve Got
Cool Curries
Delectable Duck
Do I Dare to Eat a Peach?
Drupe Fruit
Excellent Eggs
Feel the Fear and
Cook it Anyway
Give Swede a Chance
Glorious Globes
Glorious Greens
Golden Orbs
Heavenly Herbs
King Cauliflower
Lovely Lovage
Meat of Kings
More Than Marmalade
Of Cabbages and Kings
Partridges and Pears
Pumpkins and Winter Squash
Remarkable Medlars
Roasting Chestnuts
Rhubarb Renaissance
Ruffian Roots: Celeriac
Sensational Sea Buckthorn
Sicilian Utopia
Strawberry Fare
The Not-So-Humble Parsnip
Time for Pie
Time to Talk About Eggs
Watercress – a culinary hero
We Won't Go Until
We Get Some
Gooseberries recipe development cookery Christine McFadden Southwest
Gooseberries recipes cookery classes Dorset Foodie Southwest

Christine's blog

This is the place to enjoy Christine's food-related musings – from seasonal food and food producers to cooking tools, food markets and gastro-travel. You'll also find some must-try recipes and invaluable tips and techniques.


There is something quintessentially English about gooseberries, or goosegogs as we called them as children. They remain one of our few truly seasonal fruits, enjoying their heyday in the early 1800s when the industrial north was a hotbed of working men's gooseberry clubs. As the late garden writer Edward Bunyard stated somewhat snootily in The Anatomy of Dessert, "The plebian origin of the Gooseberry has been, I fear, a handicap to its appreciation at cultured tables." He goes on to say, quite rightly, that if the flavour were found in a tropical fruit, it "would be exalted in the most fervent language".

Gooseberries often get a bad press, but they are not necessarily green or sour or bristling with hairs. Some are as smooth and taut as an inflated balloon, others are soft and downy. Some are a strange milky white, others look like lemon drops, and there are those that are a deep exotic red.

Like apples and plums, gooseberries are classified as cooking or dessert, though the boundaries are somewhat blurred. Cooking gooseberries are the first on the scene, signalling, as they do, the possibility of summer. Dessert gooseberries, either green or red, are harvested later; they may be a dedicated variety, or a cooking variety left longer on the bush to sweeten. They are larger and softer, irresistibly juicy and sweet, with an almost translucent skin.

Gooseberries are natural candidates for jams and jellies, pickles and chutneys, and they also make excellent ice cream. They are tamed by elderflower and the comforting blandness of pastry or cream – delicious in a pie or cake, or combined with elderflowers in a creamy fool. Moving on to savoury things, their tart grassy flavour makes a pleasantly sharp sauce for fatty fish such as mackerel or salmon.

Gooseberries are at their best now, so do try them while you have the chance. Check out my recipe for Gooseberries with Orange and Bay Syrup. It's very little trouble to make, apart from topping and tailing, that is, and would make a delicious ending to a beautiful summer dinner – socially distanced of course.

UK season
Cooking gooseberries: late May–mid-July
Dessert gooseberries: July–August

© Christine McFadden, July 2022

    Photography: Christine McFadden    
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