The word ‘gooseberry’ is often used to describe the third person unwantedly tagging along with a dating couple – usually a friend of one of the pair who can’t get a date themselves. This person might be in the group but they are certainly not getting any attention! The same scenario is often true of the fruit – gooseberries can be the odd one out among the more popular strawberries and raspberries of the summer season. This writer well remembers as a young child, stealing gooseberries from a very large untended and unkempt gooseberry bush in the front garden of a neighbour. Every year, despite little attention from it’s owner, it would hang with plump round green berries that were covered with downy hair. We were not supposed to be in that garden, let alone stealing the fruit. Eating them as we picked them, especially early on in the season, often resulted in an excrutiating stomach ache! You may say that’s punishment well deserved! And it’s probably why a lot of people overlook gooseberries in favour of the sweeter berries also available now. But like the old neighbour in this story, (who did manage to harvest some of her own fruit for pies and tarts!) those who love gooseberries are fans forever. Modern gooseberry cultivation has introduced sweeter hairless varieties, even pink gooseberries, that ripen to sweet juiciness. But like rhubarb, most gooseberries will usually have an ‘edge’ of acidity that is softened by gentle cooking with sugar to taste. Use poached gooseberries in summer pies and tarts. Gooseberry preserve makes a great spread for morning toast long after the summer is over. Spice them with a little chilli and serve as a lively relish with cold duck, pork or even grilled mackerel. Whizz poached gooseberries for a quick summer fool, stirred through thick whipped cream. There are lots of ways you can appreciate these green jewel like berries, now in season – and coming to a garden near you!! (Only joking…you can purchase fresh gooseberies from some of our soft fruit growers and farm shops!).