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Grow Your Own

Piers Warren helps us to grow Gooseberries

The name 'gooseberry' or 'goosberry' (which dates to at least the 15th century) is thought by some to come from the fact that the berries were commonly used to make a sauce for roast goose.

But for us vegans, these berries have many other delicious uses! Currants and gooseberries (Ribes grossularia) belong to the genus Ribes - and others believe that the French word for currant, 'Groseille', may have been mispronounced over time to arrive at the name 'gooseberry'.

Gooseberries are great in pies, crumbles and fools (just blitz up some stewed sweetened gooseberries with vegan custard or cream). They are easy to grow in a sunny position in the garden/allotment or in a container.

Recommended varieties

Invicta: High yields of large, pale green berries.
Hinnonmaki Red: Produces large red berries, and lots of them, which are sweet enough to be eaten raw.

Bare-root plants should be planted in winter, while potted ones can be planted out at any time. Mulch well and, if in a container, make sure the soil doesn't dry out.

In July, bushes can be pruned to reduce the new growth and shape the plant. This will not remove the developing fruits as they grow on old wood.

Then in winter, a further pruning can remove dead branches or those growing close to the ground, and shorten other branches.

The berries will be ready for harvesting from June/July. If birds are stripping the bushes of fruits you may need to cover them in netting or grow them in fruit cages.

Storage: To freeze gooseberries, top and tail before bagging up and placing in the freezer. They can also be frozen as a purée after stewing and sieving. Gooseberries
can also be bottled, made into jams, jellies, chutneys and wine. Berries that are young and hard have a higher acid and pectin content so are better for jam-making. Use older, softer ones for chutneys or wine.

Piers Warren is the co-author (with his daughter, Ella Bee Glendining) of The Vegan Cook & Gardener: Growing, Storing and Cooking Delicious Healthy Food all Year Round available from shop.permaculture.co.uk

Gooseberry Chutney

Makes 2 jars - approximately 400g each. Adjust amounts throughout if you wish to make more in one go. This lovely chutney goes well with crackers and vegan cheese, salads, quiches, plant-based sausages - you name it!

You will need: 500g gooseberries, 100g onions, 100g raisins, 10g salt, 125g sugar, 50ml water, 125ml vinegar, Spices of your choice (e.g. ginger, pepper, chillies)

1. Finely chop the gooseberries and onions and simmer in the water until very soft (about 20 minutes).

2. Add the vinegar, sugar, salt and spices then stir and simmer until a pulpy consistency is achieved (about another 20 minutes).

3. Ladle into sterilised jars and seal. This will keep for several months but once opened store in the fridge and use within a couple of weeks.

VeganLife

The lifestyle magazine written by vegans for vegans.