One of the prettiest fruits, gooseberries are also known as Chinese lanterns. Contrary to popular belief, the gooseberry is not a true berry, but a member of the tomato family. They are originally from South America, Mexico and southern states of the US and were probably introduced to the South of Africa in the 19th century.
They contain a good amounts of beta carotene and vitamin C, which helps to promote a strong immune system, as well as potassium, an essential mineral which plays a role in the control of blood pressure.
Gooseberries are also useful source of soluble fibre. However, the berries are often stewed in a sugar syrup and then served with plenty of cream, which converts the low calorie fruit into a high calorie dessert.
The leaves of the berry can be cooked and eaten as a spinach.
There are several varieties of berries:
- Some have been bred especially for desserts and are sweeter-tasting than the varieties used in cooking such as crumbles, fools and pies.
- Used to flavor beverages such as sodas, flavored beverages and milk.
- Can be made into fruit wines and teas.
- Can be preserved in form of jams, dried fruit, or stored in sugar syrup.
Early pickings are generally sour and suitable for culinary use. That includes most supermarkets berries that are often picked before fully ripe to increase shelf life.