Gooseberries used to be much more widely available in North America. When Gooseberries were banned in the 1930s for spreading white pine blister rust, which decimated the logging industry, their popularity dwindled. As a result, they should stay away from susceptible trees, such as white pine and black locust.
It is important to note that gooseberries come in two basic varieties: American and European. The name gooseberry is also given to similar fruits that are not truly gooseberries, the majority of which are currant varieties.
Gooseberries from the United States
Native to the New England region, including parts of Canada and the Mid-Atlantic States, American Gooseberries are a common ornamental plant. They are hardier than their European counterparts, but their fruits are smaller, and some people argue that they have a poorer flavor.
Amish Red is a vibrant shade of red. Medium-sized red berries, good yields, and a unique sweetness distinguish them from the competition. This US-European hybrid variety is called Captivator. They are red berries with a pointy tip that can be eaten from the very top.
A light green color develops on the berries as they grow older and turn a deep red color as they mature. When they are pink, they are great for cooking, but they are not so great when they are red.
Goober Hinnonmaki Captivator Red Goober is a quality and thornless gooseberry, the flavor of which might surprise you. Its stems have no thorns and have an upright growth pattern. You can find it in a blushing pink color, and the berries are sweet and juicy right off the bush. Captivator gooseberry has good resistance to mildew. Therefore, it is considered one of the best new varieties.
You can grow these berries mid-season. As a result, it will produce large, sweet, deep red fruit. Since they are disease-resistant and self-fertile, this variety can produce a lot of fruit.
The USDA developed Glendale in the 1930s. This is a tall bush with a lot of fruit. It has a bunch of small, purplish-red berries that adorn these shrubs. Other gooseberries are afraid to venture into hotter climates because of their heat and sun resistance, but not this one.
· Jahns Prairie
Jahns Prairie is a place in the Midwest. Inherited from the European cultivars, this gooseberry is disease resistant and has a sweetness of flavor. This fruit is great for preserving – something you can save for later use. Either that, or you can eat it straight out of the tree.
· Champion of Oregon Berries
Champion of Oregon Berries can be found in different ranges. You can cultivate them in both medium and large sizes. These berries are yellowish-green in color. This berry can also be preserved for later use.
Poorman is another variety of gooseberries. It is larger in stature than the majority of American cultivars. The growth of this gooseberry is relatively strong and productive with medium-sized fruit.
Red-fruited Poorman berries are sweet and full of flavor. It has fewer and smaller thorns than most varieties and produces fruit over a longer growing season, making it the best American type for home gardens. Powdery mildew isn’t a problem because this plant is widely known for its hardiness.
Pixwell is another type of gooseberry, which is relatively easier to grow in comparison to other plants. The pixwell plant is tough as nails. This is a medium-sized fruit that turns purple as it ripens. It is supposed to be the most popular gooseberry because it’s hardy, productive, and yields a lot of fruit. However, it has a questionable taste.
Gooseberries from Europe
According to resources, gooseberries from Europe are larger and better tasting than those from the United States. They can be as large as a plum. However, you can also find them in small sizes. In fact, they are more commonly found in the smaller size range. Gooseberries are available in a wide range of colors, including white, yellow, red, and most shades in between. You can also find a wide range of European cultivars at specialized nurseries. The powdery mildew-prone European varieties can be devastated by American strains of the fungus.
The following are gooseberry varieties from Europe:
· Achilles Sweet red berries
Achilles Sweet red berries are relatively large in size. This gooseberry can be cultivated in the middle of the season. As the name suggests, it has a sweet taste. Therefore, it can be added to various desserts. The best time to cook them is when they are at their prime – somewhere around the time when they turn green. You can also eat them raw. However, try to consume them whole only when they are red.
· Early Sulfur
Early sulfur gooseberries are famous for their yellow patches. It has peach fuzz that makes it stand out from all the other gooseberries available in the market. Early sulfur has a good flavor. However, it has poor disease resistance. Therefore, most home gardeners refrain from cultivating this plant in their garden.
Greenfinch is a small bush that produces pale green berries. This berry can resist mold, but not so much. This is because if the mold grips on, greenfinch might fall prey to it. You can find and cultivate this berry mid-season.
Hinnonmaki is a medium-sized berry that has tart skin and sweet flesh. These two qualities make this a prized Finnish heirloom. It is available in two colors – yellow and red.
The red gooseberry of the Hinomaki breed is exceptionally famous. It does not have an AGM; however, it is everyone’s favorite. It bears large red berries that are sweet enough to eat raw and extremely delectable. This plant can produce a lot of berries that can be harvested all year long. This is a robust, disease-resistant berry, ideal for plantation. This one is a no-brainer because it does well even in cooler climates. The Hinnomaki Red Gooseberry Compote can be easily protected against plant diseases. Gourd ‘Hinnonmaki Red’ has small but plentiful berries. It’s a joy to grow because it’s tough, resilient, and hardy. You will find a variety of red, sweet fleshed fruits abound in this easy-to-grow variety. It has a good mildew resistance and a straight, easy-to-prune habit.
The fruit is enormous but has no flavor. European varieties of gooseberries are not very famous for their taste and quantity. However, Invicta is known to have good disease resistance, making it one of the most sought-after gooseberries.
It is resistant to the dreaded American Gooseberry Mildew, which alone makes it a strong contender. Along with being a hardy bush that reliably yields a large crop of fruit each year, this variety’s popularity is easy to understand.
· Whinham’s Industry
This Industrious Whinham Variety of Gooseberry has red thistles on the plant that cause it to grow slowly. These are rounded yellow berries. However, they appear reddish at times. This fruit is known for its exceptional aroma and great taste.
It’s been decades since Whinham’s Industry has grown, and it holds up extremely well to more recent introductions. There is less “hair” on the red fruits, making them easier to eat straight from the bush than many other types of berries. When ripe, the berries weigh about 10 grams each, making them large for the berry family. These berries are excellent for cooking as well as eating straight from the forest. You might find a lot of thorns; however, these fruits are strong and upright.
This classic 1850 cultivar is one of the oldest around. You will find sweet-tasting fruits that are prolific producers. This variety produces early, letting you show off a little. Just leave it on the bush, and by the end of summer, they are sweeter than grapes. Smooth, dark red fruits appear early in the season on this early variety. The habit is straight and doesn’t require much work to keep it that way.
The Industrious Whinham Variety of Gooseberry thrives in partial shade and can handle heavy clay soil with ease. This variety has proven itself time and time again to be an exceptional fit for the UK climate. It’s a late cropper, so its fruits are ripe by July, making it useful for extending the growing season. Its only weakness is a tendency to mildew, so make sure to prune the plant well every year to avoid this.
Pax has only been available since 1989, making it a relative newcomer to the world of gooseberries. A Whinham’s Industry and an unidentified variety have been crossed to create this hybrid. Because it produces so few spines, this variety has the added benefit. You can easily pick the fruit all year long.
However, during mid-season in early June, the fruits turn a deep red and ripen to their full potential. Sweet enough to eat straight from the bush, but it also tastes great when cooked. When the plant is fully grown, you should get about 1.75kg of fruit. Disease resistance is high, and pruning to leave an open center promotes better air circulation and fewer problems with mildew, mold, and other fungi.
Another European gooseberry variety is leveler. This fruit is known for its exceptional yellow color and enormous size. It can be found both as strawberries and blackberries. Leveller is known to be a powerful antioxidant. When it comes to pies and crumble, according to Mrs. Beardsworth, this is the best gooseberry.
Many people overlook traditional green gooseberries in favor of the more eye-catching red varieties; however, Leveller is an excellent reason to reconsider. This cultivar has outstanding flavor and hair-free skins. Picked fresh from the bush, this fruit is delicious, both raw and cooked. From the end of June to the middle of July, this is a mid-season variety that bears large, sweet fruits that produces a healthy yield. The open habit of this popular exhibition variety makes picking a breeze. It is generally used in cooking, but it can be a tasty dessert berry if left to ripen on the bush fully.
It is more disease-resistant than the majority of cultivars, making it an excellent choice for the UK. The soil must be well-dug and fertile for it to produce consistently. However, the effort is worth it. The berries weigh about 10 grams each, and if you have the right soil conditions, you can expect a generous harvest.
Telegraph is a very large fruit found in a tinge of yellow. However, it does not have great taste. Some people think that telegraph gooseberries are bland, while others find them mediocre.
Tixia has no thorns. It has a reddish appearance and is known to be one of the largest varieties of gooseberries. These berries are disease-resistant and have a high level of productivity that heavily contributes to their positive attributes.
Fake gooseberries are similar-looking fruits that bear the name “gooseberry” but aren’t gooseberries at all. Let us look at some of the examples:
- Unlike other gooseberries (which are true berries), Cape Gooseberries are more closely related to tomatoes and tomatillos than true cherries.
- Tasti Berry is another example of fake gooseberries. It is an amalgamation of gooseberry and black currant. On the other hand, a thorny shrub bears the sweet berry’s fruit.
- Otaheite gooseberry is a type of berry found in Japan. Despite its name, it looks nothing like a gooseberry, even though it is just as acidic. It’s more of an ornamental plant than anything else.
- There are some areas where the Barbados gooseberry is considered an invasive cactus. The plant bears a small edible fruit that resembles a gooseberry.
- Ceylon Gooseberry is very similar to a true Gooseberry. It belongs to the genus ‘Dovyalis,’ which includes thorny shrubs and trees. When unripe, the fruit is orange; when fully grown, it turns a deep variegated purple. It has short, prickly green hair with a tinge of gray on its surface. The fruit’s bitter skin belies its tart and juicy flesh, which has a flavor profile similar to a cranberry. When the fruit is overripe, and the skin has been removed, you can eat it right away.
There are various varieties of gooseberries found in the United States and Europe. Before cultivating either of them in your home garden, you need to be familiar with all the types. This way, you can easily grow the one that best suits your needs.