Natasha Pickowicz likes them rolled in sugar, frozen, and used as a topping for ice cream. 

By Nina Friend
August 29, 2019
grafvision/Getty Images

From tomatoes and corn to all kinds of stonefruit, there's nothing better than summer produce. Berries are another crop that hit their peak in warm weather months, and though we're all about strawberry ice cream and blueberry pie, Cape gooseberries are the fruit we're getting excited about right now.

So what are gooseberries, exactly? The round orange berries are growin in a papery husk and resemble sungold tomatoes (they're in the same genus as tomatillos and the same family as tomatoes). Their flavor is mild with a kick of tartness, and they're extremely versatile, working well with everything from chocolate to duck.

Pickled, fermented, grilled, or raw, there are boundless ways to use this small-but-mighty fruit. We asked 21 chefs across the country to let us in on their absolute favorite method of cooking and eating Cape gooseberries, and here’s what they had to say.

As an ice cream topping

"I like to brush whole gooseberries with a little whipped up egg white, roll them in white sugar, and then freeze for an hour or two until they are glittering and cool. A handful of these mouth-puckering, jeweled berries is a refreshing sweet-and-sour treat with any creamy ice cream or frozen yogurt.” - Natasha Pickowicz, Pastry Chef, Café Altro Paradiso and Flora Bar

In sorbet

"I have always loved using gooseberries because of the unique and wonderful acidity they have. We have paired them with savory and pastry items over the years. This year we are using them as a sorbet with melon and ginger as our first dessert course on our new summer menu. Their vibrancy is cleansing, and opens up the palate after the savory courses.” - William Bradley, Chef/Director, Addison

On a cheeseboard

"I'd take some inspiration from Northern Italy for gooseberries, making a mostarda and taking advantage of the sweeter elements of these berries that still have a slight sourness to them. I enjoy a mostarda mantovana which is usually made with fruit like mele cotogne (quince), but also infused with mustard essence, sugar, and lemon. The condiment is almost like candied gooseberries with a spice kick from the mustard flavor. It's a three day process but minimal effort—the key is to leave the gooseberries overnight in a sugar and lemon mixture to macerate. You then strain the fruit the next day and boil the juice/sugar mixture. You cover the fruit again with the reduced hot liquid and let it sit for another 24 hours, repeating again one final time. On the last day you boil the fruit and juice/sugar mixture together and add the mustard essence to make sure that spicy mustard kick is present. Both items are delicious with some Northern Italian cheeses and great for impressing your guests!” - Johanna Hellrigl, Executive Chef, Doi Moi

In chutney

"We make a chutney with the gooseberries spiced much like a traditional Indian mango chutney with lots of ginger and sweet spices. The sweet and tart flavor of gooseberries is tailor-made for chutney and the high proportion of natural pectin in the fruit makes the chutney set up to the perfect jammy consistency. We pair it with thin slices of American country ham. The sweet, tart, spiced chutney works perfectly with the funky, salty ham.” - Andrew Zimmerman, Chef/Owner, Proxi and Sepia

On ricotta toast

“Gooseberries add a nice tang and look so pretty on cakes and pies, as well as on our popular ricotta toast.” - Carissa Waechter, Baker/Owner, Carissa's the Bakery

Try this recipe for Cucumber-Avocado Salad with Gooseberry Piri Piri Soup. 

Greg DuPree

Fermented

“I love gooseberries for their texture and sweet, tart flavor. We also ferment them from time to time. We use them in dinner dishes often at Redbird; our current duck set has gooseberries on it. They are cut in half and served as a sour counterpart to the duck, and the accompanying sauce is made with prickly pear.” - Neal Fraser, Chef/Owner, Redbird and Vibiana

Lightly grilled

“I love gooseberries. There are two ways I like to use them. The first is lightly grilling them to give a little smoke and a blister of the outer skin, which removes some of the tartness and adds depth. Another way is using them raw, sliced thin with a sharp knife in a crudo of Hakkaido scallops.” - Ryan Costanza, Executive Chef, Freedman’s

Pickled

“I eat pickled gooseberries before a workout!” - Yael Vengroff, Beverage Director, The Spare Room

On a fruit plate

“At ATLA, we’re currently offering gooseberries on our seasonal fruit plate. They are served just as they are. Guests peel back the husk and for a lot of people, it is the first time that they are experiencing a gooseberry so it feels adventurous and like they are unwrapping something new. In the past, we’ve also dehydrated them to add to a chia pudding and yogurt dish. In that preparation, they almost tasted like a raisin and had a similar texture to a dried goji berry.” - Marisol Corona, Chef de Cuisine, ATLA

With labneh and granola

“Since moving to Chicago, I’ve been eating gooseberries as a very mild yet sweet pickle. At home, I eat them with labneh and granola. Since gooseberries are in season here around the same time as blueberries, we wanted to put blueberries on Galit’s dessert menu in a way that was light and refreshing. At Galit, we cook down some of the blueberries into a compote, puree it, and toss whole blueberries in the compote. We make a lemon verbena granita and put that on top of the blueberries with a sprinkle of fresh ground coriander seeds on top. The dish was missing a punch, so we lacto-fermented the gooseberries in a 3% salt brine for 8 days, then mixed them in with the blueberries. They give the dish a surprising savory and acidic pop, much like preserved lemon would. It's tart, sweet, and cold, and the gooseberries pull the whole dish towards a more balanced taste by adding just the right amount of funky salinity to it.” - Zach Engel, Executive Chef/Owner, Galit

In jelly

“Gooseberries are a delicious, slightly tart berry that I love to make jellies with as a condiment. I find that the sweet and sour component pairs exceptionally well with proteins, especially venison." - Matt Abdoo, Executive Chef/Owner, Pig Beach

Try this recipe for Lemon Verbena Tart with Cape Gooseberry Compote.

© TINA RUPP

In salsa 

"Gooseberries can be a welcome addition to your ingredient toolbox. I treat them like I would tomatillos and make a killer salsa with charred pineapple and habaneros. Or in my manchamanteles, a mole heavily featuring fresh fruit." - Claudette Zepeda, formerly Executive Chef/Partner, El Jardín

Raw with cheese and cured meats

“For me, gooseberries are best used raw. I like to serve them in their husk with cheese and cured meats. They are somewhat sour with a grape-like flavor, and do really well at cutting through the fats. They also work well as a jam or chutney.” - Anthony Fraske, Executive Chef, Makeready L&L at Noelle

In pie, jams, or cocktails

"My parents are originally from northern Ireland, and I still have a lot of family living there. I have fond memories of spending my summers in Ireland picking gooseberries and strawberries. We would take little baskets and walk the fields picking lots of berries while sneakily stuffing our faces with the ripe, juicy morsels. We would take our pickings home and my Granny Vera would teach me how to churn butter to make a flaky crust for the sweet and tart gooseberry and strawberry pies. I love using a combination of bright and tart gooseberries with sweeter berries such as strawberries to bake pies, crostatas or even in crumbles with the addition of an almond crumb topping for nuttiness and texture. I also love the flavor combination of gooseberries and elderflower liqueur, such as St Germain. These two ingredients make for a beautiful jam to add to a grazing board with your favorite cheese, bringing a unique balance of sweetness and acidity. You could even throw together a pitcher of gooseberries, St. Germain, vodka, and ice topped up with sparkling wine for a delicious porch punch to drink in the summer.” - Janine Booth, Chef/Creative Director, Stiltsville Fish Bar, Root & Bone, and Mi'Talia Kitchen

As a garnish for savory dishes

“At Saison, we're currently using gooseberries as a garnish for our Santa Barbara spot prawn course. We peel back the leaves (but leave them attached, so the guest can use them to pick up the gooseberry) and then we dip the gooseberry into a gooseberry gelee to intensify the flavor (the gelee is made with gooseberry juice that's infused with elderflower and kombu). The spot prawns are warmed over the fire, and we serve it alongside a shishito pepper and corn fritter, so the gooseberry’s acidity and fruitiness brings a beautiful balance to the dish.” - Laurent Gras, Executive Chef/Co-Owner, Saison

In salads

“I love the balance of tart and savoriness they offer. I specifically enjoy adding them to summer salads paired with corn or a grilled item, like quail.” - Kyle Knall, Executive Chef, Electric Lemon

Try this recipe for Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Cumin-Spiked Corn Puree

In cocktails

"Every season, we introduce a new cocktail menu at Addison that showcases a specific ingredient or theme inspired by what we are discovering at the local markets. When we were brainstorming ideas for the summer berry cocktail menu, we made a list of all possible berry options we had access to and the last one was the gooseberry. We realized that not many people have actually had a gooseberry though it is something that a lot of 'wine people' often mention when describing Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc. We ultimately decided to feature the gooseberry because it offers unique flavors (high toned, kiwi-like acidity), and because it’s unexpected for those who have never tasted (or seen one before).” - Rafael Sanchez, Wine & Beverage Director, Addison

With dark chocolate

“One of our favorite desserts on The Apparatus Room menu features dark chocolate, gooseberries, and other varieties of ribes. We make a currant sorbet, red gooseberry sauce, and serve those with an acidic, red fruit forward dark chocolate, along with candied hazelnuts, a buckwheat shortbread, and fresh gooseberries.” - Duncan Spangler, Pastry Chef, The Apparatus Room

In kombucha

"We use gooseberries in our tuna dish at the restaurant. What I (Billy) love about working with them is that for such a small fruit it packs a lot of flavor. To give you a sense of how we work with it, our tuna is tossed in Turkish spice and charred. It comes with toasted almonds, preserved lemon pepper puree, tomatoes, shaved onions, fresh herbs and charred gooseberries. I have been experimenting in using them within my kombucha I brew at home. My most recent flavor is a lavender gooseberry with celery." - Jennifer Carroll and Billy Riddle, Co-Executive Chefs, Spice Finch

With pork

“Gooseberries are fun to use because the acidity and tartness provides balance for the richness of pork belly, and it also allows the dish to be paired with a wide range of high-altitude and cool-climate white wines. They have a slight tannic structure that helps cut through the fat in the belly when it starts to coat your mouth, which allows for the full appreciation of the nuanced flavors in the meat." - Remy Pettus, Executive Chef/Owner, Bardo

What's your favorite way to cook with gooseberries? Tell us by tagging us at @foodandwine.

Advertisement