What: Not to be confused with “cape gooseberries,” or Physalis peruviana, which are related to tomatillos, gooseberries belong to the same genus as currants. They are both farmed and found wild throughout Canada. There are at least a dozen different species of gooseberries, and their tart, mouth-puckering flavour can range in colour from light green to red and even dark purple.
When: Generally available from around July to late August
How: The small, grape-sized gooseberries that grow in the garden surrounding chef Paul Rogalski’s Rouge Restaurant in Calgary start out green in the early summer and turn a deep shade of red, almost black, by August. We asked him how he likes to prepare them:
“They’re super, super tart. Oh my God, are they tart! Nobody really finds them all that pleasant on their own, especially when they’re on the green side. They have a lot of juice to it, similar to a grape.
“What I like to do every year when we harvest them is make a gooseberry chutney. It’s based on the same sort of technique as a mango chutney, so we start with onions and ginger and we hit it with some curry. Essentially, we’ll make a gastrique out of it, so we’ll add honey and some vinegar and sometimes bell peppers. Then, we add the gooseberries. We don’t mush them up. We just let them simmer until they explode and put it into a storage container and allow it to cool.
“It goes so well with lamb – it’s amazing how good it is with lamb. If you’ve had chutney before and you like chutney, this is one of those flavours that’s right up your alley.”