1 These gooseberry bushes are laden with little fruits, ready to be picked. The gooseberries in my garden include 'Pixwell', 'Invicta', and 'Hinnonmaki Red'.
2 The gooseberry bushes are located at the rear of the greenhouse, where they can get morning sun, afternoon part-shade, and buoyant air circulation. Everyone on the farm who was available pitched in to help pick berries.
3 Well-maintained gooseberry bushes can fruit for more than 15-years. They are fast growing, deciduous shrubs, that can grow up to three to four feet tall, and up to six feet wide.
4 Gooseberries are not difficult to pick, but the stems are thorny, so care must be taken when harvesting the fruits.
5 When picking, look for full grown gooseberries. American varieties usually reach about a half-inch long in size. Also look at the color - some varieties change color when completely ripe.
6 And, discard any gooseberries you see on the ground as they are likely overripe.
7 Gooseberries are native to Europe, northwest Africa, and all regions of Asia except for the north. Gooseberries grow best in areas with cold, freezing winters and humid summers. Wild gooseberries can be found in alpine thickets, woodlands and hedgerows.
8 These small, tart fruits come in many textures - smooth, fuzzy, spiny, opaque and translucent, but always with a taut skin.
9 Gooseberries were first grown as early as the 16th century in the United Kingdom. They grew so much in popularity among British chefs that in the 19th century, there were clubs of gooseberry growers. Mildew nearly decimated the fruit in 1905, but thankfully, mildew-resistant plants were re-introduced from America.
11 When planting, gooseberry bushes are relatively undemanding. They require well-drained, loamy soil, and in winter, they do need pruning to encourage strong new growth and to remove weak branches.
12 The color of gooseberries depends on the variety. It can range from yellow, green, and white to red, purple or nearly black. What is most noticeable in all are the veins in the skin of the fruit.
13 'Pixwell' gooseberries are medium sized pinkish berries that are great for fresh eating or for making pies and jellies.
14 'Pixwell' is vigorous, bushy and less thorny than other varieties. They are hardy plants, bearing abundant fruit in summer.
15 These medium sized, oval-shaped fruits are pale green and become pink when fully ripe.
16 'Invicta' gooseberries are larger, sweet, greenish-yellow berries that are delicious for fresh eating, and for making pies and preserves. They are also great for freezing and using later.
17 The 'Invicta' gooseberry plant is vigorous, spiny, and can yield a prolific amount of fruit. It has excellent resistance to mildew making it a popular variety for home growers.
18 'Hinnonmaki Red' is an introduction from Finland. The small to medium bushes are upright and easy to harvest. Gooseberries begin producing fruit one year after planting, and are generally very dependable every year following.
19 The 'Hinnonmaki Red' gooseberry has a unique tart and sweet taste combination. They're great for making pies and jams, but are also tasty when eaten fresh from picking.
20 The branches are thickly set with sharp spines, standing out singly or in tufts of two or three from the bases of the short spurs and leaf shoots.
21 The fruits can be round, pear-shaped elongated or oval, and each one can contain 15 to 30 miniature seeds inside.
22 Do you know... gooseberries are among the most nutritious fruits available? They are rich in antioxidants, iron, vitamins A and C, fiber, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Gooseberries are known to improve skin and vision health, and to increase immunity.
23 I like to freeze a lot of berries for use later. To do this, place one layer of berries on a cookie sheet, and freeze until they are solid. Then simply transfer the berries to plastic bags or containers, so they store more easily back in the freezer.
24 Aside from being eaten as is, or used to make jams, jellies, pies and other desserts, gooseberries have also been known to flavor beverages and made into fruit wines and teas.
25 Don't confuse this gooseberry with other plants containing gooseberry in its name - they are neither related or similar to the Chinese gooseberry, which is a kiwi fruit, or to the Barbados gooseberry, which is a type of cactus.
26 I grow an abundance of fruits and vegetables to share with my daughter and grandchildren. I also share them with employees in our New York office, use them for magazine, television and video shoots, and for cooking when I entertain. I hope you all enjoy the fruits and vegetables from your gardens as much as I do.