Gooseberries In The Garden: Forgotten Soft Fruit Rediscovered

Gooseberries In The Garden: Forgotten Soft Fruit Rediscovered

Gooseberries are currently experiencing a renaissance. For a long time, the once popular berry fruit was almost forgotten, but now gooseberries are making their way into gardens more and more often. The reason: New varieties make the healthy gooseberries much more attractive for the home garden and for use in the kitchen than they were a few decades ago. Today, gooseberries are more robust and resistant to the dreaded American powdery mildew. In addition, gooseberries are nowhere near as prickly as they once were. Find out more about this and why gooseberries are not as sour as they are often said to be, the best varieties at a glance, tips on buying and growing gooseberries in the garden, here.

Gooseberries used to be found in many gardens. However, when the bushes were attacked en masse by American gooseberry mildew in the 1970s, the once-popular soft fruit disappeared from gardens for a time. As a result, gooseberries were somewhat forgotten. Many still know gooseberries from childhood days and remember fondly how they snacked on the delicious sour juicy berries straight from grandma’s garden in summer. Some also remember the gooseberry as a prickly bush whose fine hairs sometimes felt a little furry in the mouth.

But things have changed since then, and gooseberries are experiencing a renaissance thanks to new cultivars. There are now mildew-resistant varieties and, unlike back then, gooseberries are no longer as prickly as their name suggests. The healthy properties of these vitamin-rich berries have also been rediscovered in recent years.

Gooseberries are now widespread. They are found in Europe, North Africa, Asia and North America. However, the original origin of the popular gooseberry remains a mystery, as it can no longer be traced exactly. After all, the bushes often break out of the gardens and like to go wild. Usually, the feral gooseberries are then very difficult to distinguish from the wild original gooseberry. The gooseberry loves the light forests, where the soil is slightly moist. It is also usually found along forest edges, in hedgerows, floodplain forests or ravine and mountain forests. However, among our native soft fruits, gooseberries have a special feature.

Gooseberries can be used in different stages of ripeness

Gooseberries are the only berries in this country that can already be harvested and used in the kitchen, although they are not yet ripe. In the case of gooseberries, therefore, a so-called “green picking” takes place from the end of May. At this time, the berries are still green and quite small. Since unripe gooseberries taste very sour, they are not suitable for direct consumption and are only used for preserving or as a cake topping. If you want to make tasty jams or jellies from the gooseberries, you should wait a bit with the harvest until the fruits grow larger but are still firm. However, until the gooseberries are ripe enough for fresh consumption, they still have to hang on the bushes for a while.

In general, the healthy gooseberries are often considered sour, which discourages many from eating the berries – but completely wrongly. Gooseberries are not really ripe until July and taste pleasantly sweet. The riper and larger a gooseberry is, the more aromatic and sweet it tastes. So if you have ever tried gooseberries and they were much too sour, they were probably berries that were harvested too early or were not suitable for fresh consumption at all.

Gooseberries In The Garden: Forgotten Soft Fruit Rediscovered

Beware when buying gooseberries:


Many vendors sell the berries unripe, because of their better storage qualities. The fruits then often taste too sour. A closer look is therefore worthwhile. Whether the berries are properly ripe can be recognized by several characteristics. Ripe gooseberries are large, plump and have a soft skin.

Use of gooseberries depending on the degree of ripeness

Unripe gooseberries:
(green, not yet fully grown)

  • for preserving or as a cake topping
  • Harvest from the end of May – beginning of June

Large, but still firm gooseberries:

  • for making jams or jellies

Fully ripe gooseberries:
The larger and softer the gooseberries, the sweeter they taste.

  • for fresh consumption
  • Harvest from July or August, depending on the variety

Do gooseberries ripen? – Tips for correct storage


Gooseberries can be harvested before they are ripe for picking and then ripen further. Since unripe berries can be stored well, this can easily extend the harvest period by several weeks. In the refrigerator, unripe gooseberries will keep for about 2 weeks. Fully ripe berries should also be stored in a cool place, but should be used within 3-4 days. Gooseberries can be kept much longer if they are frozen. Berries that are close to full ripeness are particularly suitable for freezing. The skin of the fruit is then still somewhat firmer and does not burst open as easily during freezing as with the fully ripe berries.

Gooseberries are aromatic-sweet and full of vitamins.


The sweet-sour berries are very healthy and known for their high vitamin C content. How much of it a gooseberry contains depends on the degree of ripeness. The riper the berries, the more vitamins. However, there is even more in the power fruits. They also provide vitamin B1 and vitamin E, iron, potassium, calcium and phosphorus.

Gooseberries in the garden

Gooseberries In The Garden: Forgotten Soft Fruit Rediscovered


Berry variety: gooseberries in different colors and growth forms.
Supermarkets and fruit stands often only have the delicious gooseberries in their assortment for a short time during the peak season. It is therefore worthwhile to simply grow the easy-care shrubs with their healthy berries in your own garden. In nurseries, gooseberries are usually offered either as a classic shrub or as a tall stem. Which growth form to choose when buying depends on the respective preferences and intended use. Both forms are even suitable for cultivation in large tubs on the balcony or terrace, provided there is sufficient space.

Gooseberry high stems look very decorative and facilitate the harvest. To carry the heavy load of fruit in the summer, high stems always need a support. However, the classic shrub variety is more robust, durable and provides higher yields. Green, yellow and red gooseberries are available for selection among both high stems and shrubs. Newer cultivars are resistant to powdery mildew, so American gooseberry mildew from the 1970s doesn’t stand a chance. Some of the varieties have hardly any prickles or are even considered prickle-free, making harvesting easier.

Just like the gooseberry with its fine hairs on the skin, many other original forms of today’s cultivated fruit also possessed some characteristics that did not always meet with enthusiasm among humans. An example of this is the banana, which was originally full of large and hard seeds. Through intensive breeding, today everyone knows only seedless bananas. The same is now happening with the gooseberry. Now there are many varieties whose berries are smooth and no longer form hairs.

The best varieties of gooseberries


There are many varieties of gooseberries to choose from in nurseries and plant nurseries. The following gooseberries are among the most popular varieties, which have proven themselves in many home gardens and even in commercial cultivation. All are characterized by particularly tasty fruits with smooth or less hairy skin and high yields. They are considered hardy and very resistant to powdery mildew and other foliar diseases. Some of the varieties are even thorn-free, making it easier to harvest and enjoy the healthy gooseberries.

Green gooseberry ‘Invicta’ – Ideal for home garden and commercial cultivation.
The gooseberry variety ‘Invicta’ is very robust and extremely productive. It is therefore popular for planting in many home gardens and even for commercial cultivation. ‘Invicta’ has very low susceptibility to powdery mildew and other leaf diseases. Each summer, the variety yields numerous aromatic fruits starting in July. The light green berries are usually only slightly hairy to not hairy at all and are burst resistant.

Red Gooseberry ‘Spinfree ‘ – Wonderful aroma & thornless.
‘Spinfree’ is a thornless variety and its delicious red fruits are a real invitation to snack on. Since it has almost no prickles, the particularly tasty berries are very easy to harvest. Gooseberries have a very smooth skin and an excellent sweet-fruity aroma. The variety has proven itself in many gardens and is characterized mainly by high yields and its resistance to powdery mildew. Therefore, it is one of the most popular gooseberry varieties.

Red gooseberry ‘Captivator’ – spine-free berry enjoyment
The bright red berries of the ‘Captivator’ variety are simply delicious – it is even said that its fruits taste the best among all gooseberries. A special feature of the ‘Captivator’ variety: the bush has almost no thorns, which makes picking the berries very easy. Powdery mildew has no chance with this gooseberry.

Yellow or red gooseberry ‘Hinnonmäki’ – tried and tested with high yields
‘Hinnonmäki’ is an old gooseberry variety from Finland, available with red and yellow fruits. There are few hairs on the skin of the berries, unlike many other varieties. Gooseberries ripen from July and taste pleasantly sweet. This pretty gooseberry is only slightly susceptible to powdery mildew or other leaf drop diseases and is perfect for the home garden.

Red gooseberry ‘Redeva’ – mildew-resistant new variety
‘Redeva’ is one of the newer cultivars and has proven to be very hardy and resistant to powdery mildew and other leaf drop diseases. Its purple berries are faintly hairy and taste sweet and sour. The shrub forms abundant fruit clusters that are easy to pick. The fruits remain on the bush for quite a long time and do not tend to burst.

Red Gooseberry ‘Remarka’ – A Classic
‘Remarka’, with its aromatic wine-red fruit, is one of the best-known gooseberry varieties. The fully ripe berries taste deliciously sweet and have a subtle tartness. The decorative shrub is very easy to care for, mildew resistant and has already proven itself in many gardens.

Red gooseberry ‘Rokula’ – Very robust variety against powdery mildew
‘Rokula’ bears deliciously sweet fruit in a deep dark red. The yield of this variety is quite high. The shrub is considered very hardy and resistant to the dreaded powdery mildew. Ideal for the garden and for creating pretty hedges with delicious fruit hanging.

anane, which was originally full of large and hard seeds. Through intensive breeding, today everyone knows only seedless bananas. The same is now happening with the gooseberry. Now there are many varieties whose berries are smooth and no longer form hairs.

The best varieties of gooseberries


There are many varieties of gooseberries to choose from in nurseries and plant nurseries. The following gooseberries are among the most popular varieties, which have proven themselves in many home gardens and even in commercial cultivation. All are characterized by particularly tasty fruits with smooth or less hairy skin and high yields. They are considered hardy and very resistant to powdery mildew and other foliar diseases. Some of the varieties are even thorn-free, making it easier to harvest and enjoy the healthy gooseberries.

Gooseberries as a valuable bee pasture


Before gooseberries delight us with a bountiful berry harvest, the bushes turn into a bee pasture from April to May. Numerous bees and flies swarm around the gooseberries and feast on the pollen and nectar of the small flowers that hang from the branches like bellflowers. The low-maintenance gooseberries are therefore not only a delicious berry fruit, but also serve as a valuable bee nutrient in the natural garden.

Botany Guide Tip

The harvest of gooseberries is all the richer if several varieties are planted next to each other. The flowers can self-pollinate, but pollination with pollen from other varieties still produces better yields.

Gooseberries thrive best in this location


Gooseberries love the sun, in which their fruits become really sweet. However, it is important to avoid the blazing midday sun, otherwise the berries will be damaged. Light partial shade or a place in the middle of a hedge is therefore ideal for the bushes. Regions that often experience late frosts are less suitable for gooseberries. Usually the early blossoms then fall victim to the frost, so that the harvest is smaller or even fails. The soil should be rich in nutrients and not too dry.

Botany Guide Tip

The water requirement of gooseberries is quite high. Therefore, a sufficient water supply is very important to be able to harvest abundant fruit later. In drought conditions, gooseberries need a generous portion of water.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.