These are traditionally Whitsun fruit, though it’s always touch and go whether they will actually be in the shops in time.
Early imports from France (where, strangely, there isn’t a specific word for gooseberries) and Poland can help extend the season, but home-grown fruits tend to arrive mid-June and last until August. There are countless varieties in this country, mainly as a result of our passion for local gooseberry competitions in the 19th century, but buyers can discover all they need to know just by looking at the fruit. Early gooseberries – hard, small and very green – have the best flavour for cooking.
Varieties such as Whinham’s Industry and Careless come into this category, though as they ripen and sweeten the former turns positively red and the latter a milky white. For a dessert fruit, try the larger, yellowy-green Leveller later in the season. If not fully ripe, gooseberries can be stored, covered, in the fridge for up to three weeks. For freezing, slightly under-ripe gooseberries are preferable.
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