The British climate is particularly good for growing gooseberries and the season starts midway through June, with the small green berries being available first. These are very tart and need to be stewed or cooked with sugar.
Towards the end of the season, the yellow, golden or red dessert gooseberries appear, which are slightly softer and sweeter. Gooseberries are indigenous to the cooler areas of Europe and Asia.
They became particularly popular in Britain in the 19th century and were made into wines, puddings, pies and jams. Amateur gooseberry clubs, started by Lancashire weavers, thrived in the north of England and spread to the Midlands. Competitions were held for the biggest and best and, around this time, many new varieties were cultivated.
In baking, gooseberries can be used in cakes in the same way apple purée is used. They are fantastic in tarts, crumbles or cobblers, either on their own or mixed with apples or strawberries or flavoured with ginger or elderflower for example.
They can be used in baked or steamed puddings, instead of treacle, but for a taste of summer make a meringue pie using a filling of puréed sweetened gooseberries instead of lemon.
In season: mid-June to mid-August
Fiona Burrell, co-author of Leiths Baking Bible, from the world-famous Leiths School of Food and Wine