Gooseberries are renowned for making pies, crumbles, jams, preserves and chutneys. Gooseberries are quite simply culinary classics than no self respecting kitchen would be without.
However did you know there are a number of much sweeter varieties of gooseberry bush that are actually ideal for eating fresh? The idea of picking a gooseberry straight from the bush, popping into ones mouth and eating it might be abhorrent to those who haven’t experienced what a real dessert Gooseberry tastes like! Its an added dimension in fruit-tasting pleasure and will change your perception of Gooseberries forever!
These are a type of Gooseberry you will virtually never see in the shops. To experience them you have to grow your own and I can tell you it’s well worth finding the room for a bush or two, or you can grow them as space saving cordons which only need 18” of space in which to grow. Infact desserr Gooseberries may be ideally suited to cordon growing, even more so than the culinary varieties, because with the benefit of less leaf cover, the added sunshine factor develops the sugar content – and eating pleasure – to even greater levels!
These berries are so sweet and also so thin skinned they really are an eating sensation.
There aren’t as many Gooseberry varieties that fall into the dessert category but here is a run down of the best ones. They can all be used to culinary purposes as well if need be, although for the real tart full-on Gooseberry flavour, when making jams and pies, probably the culinary varieties are vest for this type of purpose.
Golden Drop Probably the most famous desset gooseberry, ever. The fruits are only small but a beautiful deep yellow and the flavour is nectar-sweet and rich. Not a good cropper or grower but worth cosseting.
May Duke This old campaigner falls into the dual purpose category for it’s fruits can be picked whilst green and used for cooking, or allowed to develop fully and ripen whereupon they turn a deep ruby red and are very sweet.
Rokula A new variety which combines beautiful red sweet fruits with useful mildew resistance so you don’t need to spray. It is a very heavy cropper and a good clean grower – easy to grow.
Leveller Often considered the largest Gooseberry of all and has also found success on the showbench. A joy to eat, sweet, juicy and more-ish.
Crown Bob Another tather old red Gooseberry suited to dessert, the berries are few but large and tempting. Some mildew resistance.
White Lion Not an easy variety to obtain so you will need to go to a specialist. Berries are large, pale green/white and subtle of flavour.
Martlet An easy variety to grow which produces heavy crops of bright red fruits. Mildew free, an ideal garden variety and particularly suited to cordon growing.
Black Velvet This is an interesting Gooseberry hybrid. A vigorous grower but sparsely thorned which is an added asset. The fruits are small, plentiful and ripen to a very dark black-red. Sought after; some mildew resistance.
Langley Gage An old heirloom Gooseberry with exceptionally sweet, large pale primrose berries which ripen to a deeper yellow.
Early Sulphur Dual purpose so a useful variety to have. More than sweet enough to eat fresh and an exceptionally pretty little Gooseberry and of course one of the first to ripen.