The jams and pies are coming, the gooseberries are getting fat! Please do put a penny in the old man’s hat…
The gooseberries are beginning to get some real substance to them now, but wait a bit longer to pick them. You’re looking for an orb nearly an inch (2+ cm) across with skin thin enough that it looks like it could be made of glass. They will not blush red or change color, unlike their cousins the currants (which are turning red and black right about now). Instead, gooseberries will stay green- a translucent, glowing pale green.
Too sour for most American tongues, they are still excellent in jams and pies. They are very high in vitamins A and C (and potassium and manganese), but I’m not sure how much C would make it through that cooking process. I know currants are often made into ice creams and sorbets in other countries (washed but presumably raw… I wonder if gooseberries would be good for that, too?
Of course, before dessert, one really should eat dinner. Have you ever had a wild salad? I’d start by adding one or two wild things to various salads you’re making, and one of my favorites is in perfect shape right now: lamb’s quarters.
Lamb’s quarters are very tasty before they are two feet (60 cm) tall. After that, I might pinch the uppermost newest growth for a salad, but I leave the older leaves behind- they get too bitter. The younger leaves, though, are excellent.
Lamb’s quarters have a pleasing nutty-ness to them, not surprising for a relative of quinoa, amaranth, and spinach. It’s almost easier to list what nutrients AREN’T in them than what is, and although they have a low overall protein percentage, they are a great source for the key amino acids.
Their nutritional value holds through a cooking session too, so feel free to steam, saute, or add to soups. They’ll wilt up and behave very much like baby spinach. I like to saute lamb’s quarters: I add a touch of nutmeg and a bit of lemon juice and then eat them on a seed-y toast. Fast and yummy.