Gooseberries and other Lesser Known Berries (and 5 links for Friday)

Gooseberries are one of those things I don’t think to seek out at the market, but am always pleasantly surprised to find on the table when they arrive in early summer. What’s a gooseberry? I didn’t know myself until I spotted them at the Dupont Circle Farmers Market a few years ago. They are small round berries, related to the currant, that resemble a grape with stripes. They start off tart and green and and turn reddish purple and slightly sweet. They add a great tart balance with combined with sweeter berries in any of your favorite summer desserts. (I made a delish gooseberry-cherry clafoutis the summer before last.) This batch came from Black Rock Orchard in Pennsylvania, and I’ve heard reports of gooseberries across the northeast US. A local Twitter friend reports having them in her backyard growing up, which has me pondering adding them to our planned berry patch for next year.

While we’re on the subject of lesser known berries — those you may have grown up with but never see in a supermarket — we recently discovered that the mysterious berry-laden tree between our neighbor’s house and ours was a mulberry tree. I never realized we had mulberries around here, or that they grew on such tall trees. But a well-timed Washington Post article clarified the matter. I was spoiled growing up on a mountain in Oregon, where we routinely snacked on tiny tart red huckleberries, sweet thimbleberries and wild blackberries every summer. One regional berry you may hear a lot about if you torture yourself by following California food blogs, as I do, is the olallieberry. It was actually cultivated in Oregon (a relative of our beloved Marionberries), but I’ve yet to come across it.

Berries like these are one of the reasons we frequent farmers markets in the summer — aside from exposing our kids to unique berries they might never see otherwise, they also learn to appreciate seasonality and to savor the berries and fruits in their seasons. That’s not to say we never buy grapes in the winter, but they just taste so much better when they’re fresh and local.

Do you have a favorite regional berry from your childhood?

And now, five berry-themed links for your weekend enjoyment:

1. Gooseberry Ginger Jam from Doris and Jilly Cook

2. Mulberry Pie from Herban Lifestyle

3. Olallieberry Tart from Chez Pim

4. Vanilla Bean Marionberry Caramel Swirl Ice Cream (wow!) from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody

5. Maple Huckleberry Coffee Cake from 101 Cookbooks

Shared with Fight Back Friday at the Food Renegade.

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13 Responses to “Gooseberries and other Lesser Known Berries (and 5 links for Friday)”

  1. Lelo

    Fun post. And yes, to the Olallieberry. I grew up with a 20 ft row of them in Southern California. We’d pick and pick and pick, until our fingers were stained deep purple. I’d sneak home with friends and pick a few berries at lunch time in elementary school. And during the height of the season, my mom made an olallieberry cobbler every night. I recently found the recipe and it was called a berry roly poly. So so good.

  2. Jen

    We had a mulberry tree in our yard when I was a kid, and one of my grandmothers did too. My other grandma had gooseberries. She made gooseberry wine. :) She made all kinds of homemade wine (cherry, rhubarb, etc.), and it was so good!!

  3. foodietots
    Twitter:

    @ Lelo ~ I love that you snuck home for berries! Thanks for sharing.

    @ Jen ~ Ooh, rhubarb wine? Did your grandmother pass on any recipes?

  4. Mary

    What a wonderful collection of berry recipes! A few days ago, I discovered a wineberry bush growing in my backyard. So many berries, so little time!
    And thank you, by the way, for including my mulberry pie recipe along with all these other delicious-looking recipes :)
    Mary┬┤s last blog post ..Wild Foods from Dirt to Plate My ComLuv Profile

  5. FoodieTots.com » Blog Archive » Local Potluck Tuesday June 29

    [...] crumb cake that I’ll share with you later this week. And I still have a (last?) pint of gooseberries awaiting its [...]

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