So, were the wild gooseberries worth fighting prickles, poison ivy, ticks and locust thorns for? Absolutely.
The season, like everything this year, came on early. Suddenly gooseberries were everywhere. We picked as many as we could stand picking, grateful that Ribes missouriense is a friendlier berry than the Sierra gooseberries Hank Shaw describes as “nasty, spiky, prickly things.” And that’s the actual berry, not just the branch.
Still, even these smooth gooseberries need to be trimmed of stems and beards, a painstaking process, but well-worth it in the end. A few were fully ripe, soft and brownish-purple with a dull, winey sweetness. But most are tart and green, perfect for desserts, although Wild Edibles of Missouri also recommends using them in jelly and picking leaves for salads or tea.
I immediately made a pie, because that’s what my mother-in-law has always done with them. It’s easy enough: just cook 4 cups of unripe gooseberries with 1 cup of granulated sugar and 2 tablespooons of corn starch until it’s a gooey, sweet mess, then fill a double-crust pie and bake. Continue Reading