We had a surprising amount of gooseberries on our untended gooseberry bush this year – it’s been untended because it is extremely prickly and it was only by wearing gardening gloves and using the secateurs held lightly as pincers that I managed to pick most of the fruit. I think maybe I should have left them on for longer, maybe they should have been riper, but they tasted fine when cooked, and i have lots in the freezer. Have I enough for ‘gooseberry everlasting fool’ for which I’ve found a recipe in the small ‘Jam, Jellies and Preserves’, be Ethelind Fearon. She doesn’t explain why it’s an everlasting fool, and I always thought a fool was a dessert made with custard and stewed fruit gently mixed together. Her recipe mentions nothing about custard:
Cook a quantity of green gooseberries without water until the juice flows, then continue till they are soft, but not too long or they will lose their colour. Rub through a coarse sieve. Add an equal quantity of heated sugar, boil till it jells and pot, you then have gooseberry fool ready at any time of year.
Perhaps she means you can make this into gooseberry fool with the addition of custard whenever you want, yes, maybe that’s it. Another curiosity from Ethelind, the wording of it suggests to me that she has copied Grandmother’s recipe to the letter – make sure you have a goose quill to hand if you decide to make this:
Gooseberries preserved as hops
Two quarts of gooseberries, the green sort that are as big as walnuts. Slit them into quarters at the stalk and halfway down, throwing them into cold water to make the slit pieces curl back. When they have opened enough take a goose quill and clean out the seeds without breaking the berries. When they are empty put a good knot in a piece of thread and run it through five, fitting each inside the other as if they were thimbles. Fasten your thread with another know and do all the same until they are finished. Make a good syrup of two pounds of sugar to each pint of water boiled and skimmed until it is a syrup. Place your gooseberries in it and cook until they are very clear, they will look like hops and taste very fine. Take out carefully and reboil the syrup then pour over them and tie down with brandy.
Imagine how long it would take to de-seed two quarts of gooseberries using a goose quill – 2 quarts equal just over 4 lbs!! I can’t find any recipes for hops in which they end up as a model for quartered, de-seeded, thimble stacked, threaded gooseberries – maybe I should look harder.
As well as these recipes for gooseberries, Ethelind also has gooseberry marmalade, gooseberry and apple jam, gooseberry and lime jam, and gooseberry and pineapple preserve, all of which sound nicer and easier than preserved as hops.