Our century-old house has a gooseberry bush behind the garage. What, you may ask, do I use the gooseberries for? Well, I'm still trying to figure that out.
I've mentioned before that we bought our house from a couple that lived here for more than 40 years. The woman was very, very fond of her garden. But in her later years, she did very little to maintain it -- partly because she and her husband spent their summers at a cabin in the Lake of the Ozarks.
We moved in the house in the fall, and the next summer, our next-door neighbor asked if she could pick our gooseberries for the lady who formerly lived in the house. I guess she really missed the little gooseberry bush. I'm not sure what she used the berries for -- pie or jam, I suppose. She hasn't been back since to pick the berries, probably because my neighbor scratched up her arms something fierce in the thorny bush.
But it got me thinking, what am I missing out on? Are gooseberries a secret delicacy, just waiting to be revealed?
So I picked the berries myself (and got a few scratches in the process) and tried to make a pie. It turned out terrible, absolutely terrible. I figured I just found a bad recipe on the Internet; I just needed to add more sugar.
This year, my husband did the gooseberry-picking for me. Since I had all my canning supplies out, I decided to make gooseberry jam, using a recipe from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.
Let me tell you, it took forever to get the tiny stems off the gooseberries. Then I had a terrible time mashing down the thick-skinned berries; I couldn't even get them through my food mill! When I finally got the berries down to a jam-like consistency, the mash looked beautiful -- a jewel green color.
But then...the jam started to boil, or rather, foam up. And then the mash turned pale brown. And it started to smell weird. Not sure how to describe it, just not sweet and summery like I had hoped.
In the end, I ended up with a strange, brown glob of gooseberry goo. I didn't like the taste at all. It tasted more like a vegetable than a berry, and not in a good way.
So if anyone happens to read this blog, could you please tell me a good way to use up my gooseberries? There's got to be a reason why the former homeowners loved them so much. What's the secret?