Valley Bounty: Gooseberries

They don’t honk as far as I can tell, and I’ve never seen any flying in a “V” formation. How exactly gooseberries wound up with their name isn’t widely agreed upon—it may be a phonetic corruption of the Dutch name kruisbes (“cross berry”) or of their French name groseille à maquereau (which translates literally to “mackerel currant”), neither of which make much more sense on their face. The Oxford English Dictionary amusingly throws its hands in the air regarding the name’s etymology, declaring that animal-related names for fruits and plants are “so commonly inexplicable” that the fact that the name makes no sense is “no sufficient ground for assuming the word is an etymological corruption.” To “play gooseberry” or “do gooseberry” has roughly the same meaning as “be a third wheel,” and “Old Gooseberry” was once a nickname for the Devil—though these etymologies seem to be uncertain as well.

If you’ve never tried them, gooseberries have an interesting balance of tart, sweet, and floral flavors, not unlike certain grapes. Besides just eating them raw, there’s a classic English recipe called a “gooseberry fool” (another odd-sounding name with an uncertain etymology) that’s perfect for this hot weather we’re having: simmer gooseberries with sugar to taste until the fruit bursts, chill in the fridge, and then fold the mixture into fresh whipped cream.

Find local farms with gooseberries here!

Valley Bounty is written by Brian Snell of CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture)