That’s right… it’s time to pick those gooseberries, folks! We live in the Midwest where gooseberries bloom in April and the fruit is ready to be picked in June and all through the summer season. You just have to get to them before the local wildlife does!
Having a gooseberry bush in our yard has been handy for us to keep an eye on any late frosts’ effect on fruit production and to spot when the berries area ready to pick. I enjoy taking bi-weekly strolls through the yard, to monitor the growth of my produce, and when June strikes I know it is time to closely watch that gooseberry bush.
I like to wait to pick until the gooseberries are about pea-sized. But I don’t stop there. Picking throughout the season, I am able to occasionally pick some that have ripened to purple and get them ahead of the critters. Having these sweet purple berries mixed in with the tart green berries means less sugar required for jams, jellies and (more importantly) PIE.
Personally, even though the gooseberry bush has those treacherous spines, I prefer to pick gooseberries with my bare fingers. I find it is easier to grasp the tiny fruit, as well as to remove it without the stem in this manner. Other people prefer to use gloved hands and my cousin has used a blueberry picking device before with some success. However, with that method the chance of removing the berry without the stem decreases significantly.
It is easiest to pick gooseberries with a solid bucket or bag with a handle. Mesh or holes are not conducive to picking as the fruit is so small. And the handle? That’s necessary. I have found it most efficient to have both hands to pick since the fruit grows on the underside of the branches and, as I’ve mentioned, it has treacherous spines. Hanging the handle of my bag or bucket over the crook of my elbow allows me to use that hand to (carefully) grasp and lift a branch of the bush while I pick with the other.
Once I’ve had my fill of picking, I head back to the house to stem and clean the berries. I start off using my fingers to pinch the “beards” of the berry left from the flower off as well as whatever stems I missed. Next, I rinse the berries in cool water before soaking them for 2 minutes with Thieves Fruit and Veggie Soak. After the soak, the berries are rinsed in cool water again before I preserve them in one fashion or another.
If you are short on time and unable to immediately turn them into jelly, jam, curd, or pie (my personal favorite) these berries freeze well. Before freezing, I simply dry them off and place them in a quart-sized freezer bag… the perfect size for filling 1 pie. Do you see a trend here? I really like pie.