The gooseberry (/ˈɡuːsbɛri/ or /ˈɡuːzbɛri/ (American and northern British) or /ˈɡʊzbəri/ (southern British)), with scientific names Ribes uva-crispa (and syn. Ribes grossularia), is a species of Ribes (which also includes the currants).
It is native to Europe, the Caucasus and northern Africa. The species is also sparingly naturalized in scattered locations in North America. Gooseberry bushes produce an edible fruit and are grown on both a commercial and domestic basis. Its native distribution is unclear, since it may have escaped from cultivation and become naturalized. For example, in Britain, some sources consider it to be a native, others to be an introduction.
Although usually placed as a subgenus within Ribes, a few taxonomists treat Grossularia as a separate genus, although hybrids between gooseberry and blackcurrant (e.g., the jostaberry) are possible. The subgenus Grossularia differs somewhat from currants, chiefly in their spiny stems, and in that their flowers grow one to three together on short stems, not in racemes. It is one of several similar species in the subgenus Grossularia; for the other related species (e.g., North American gooseberry Ribes hirtellum), see the genus page Ribes.
Etymology and common names
“Gooseberry bush” was 19th-century slang for pubic hair, and from this comes the saying that babies are “born under a gooseberry bush”.The “goose” in “gooseberry” has usually been seen as a corruption of either the Dutch word kruisbes or the allied German Krausbeere, or of the earlier forms of the French groseille. Alternatively, the word has been connected to the Middle High German krus (curl, crisped), in Latin as grossularia. However, the Oxford English Dictionary takes the obvious derivation from goose and berry as probable because “the grounds on which plants and fruits have received names associating them with animals are so often inexplicable that the inappropriateness in the meaning does not necessarily give good grounds for believing that the word is an etymological corruption”. The French for gooseberry is groseille à maquereau, translated as “mackerel berries”, due to their use in a sauce for mackerel in old French cuisine. In Britain, gooseberries may informally be called goosegogs. The specific epithet uva-crispa literally means “curved grape”.
The gooseberry is a straggling bush growing to 1.5 metres (5 feet) in height and width, the branches being thickly set with sharp spines, standing out singly or in diverging tufts of two or three from the bases of the short spurs or lateral leaf shoots. The bell-shaped flowers are produced, singly or in pairs, from the groups of rounded, deeply crenated 3 or 5 lobed leaves. The fruit are berries, smaller in wild gooseberries than the cultivated varieties, but often of good flavour; it is generally hairy, but in one variety, smooth constituting the R. uva-crispa of writers. The colour of the berries is usually green, but there are red (to purple), yellow, and white variants. (Ribes hirtellum fruit can be green or dark purple to black.)
In a 100 gram serving, gooseberries provide 44 Calories and are an excellent source of vitamin C (33% of the Daily Value) (table). No other nutrients are in significant content. Gooseberries are 88% water, 10% carbohydrates, and less than 1% each of protein and fat.
Gooseberries are edible and can be eaten as-is, or used as an ingredient in desserts, such as pies, fools and crumbles. Early pickings are generally sour and more appropriate for culinary use. They are also used to flavour beverages such as sodas, flavoured waters, or milk, and can be made into fruit wines and teas. Gooseberries can be preserved in the form of jams, dried fruit, or as the primary or a secondary ingredient in pickling, or stored in sugar syrup.