16 Jul 2020

WHY IS GOOSEBERRIES BANNED IN THE UNITED STATES?

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Gooseberries, a fruit of the currant family, grow throughout Europe and as far north as the Arctic Circle. North America also has its fair share of gooseberry species, but growing the fruit on American soil is far from easy.

This is because some states like Maine prohibit growers from planting certain species of gooseberry, as well as its relative, the blackcurrant, because the fruits serve as an intermediate host for a disease that attacks the white pine. This tree killing disease can decimate the economies that depend on white pine, such as those related to timber.

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Gooseberries

So, what is this particular berry that is strong enough to kill trees, but sweet enough to be used in jam? We talked to gooseberry fan and GrowVeg representative Ann Marie Hendry to find out.

WHERE DO GOOSEBERRIES GROW?

Gooseberries are divided into two main groups: European (Ribes grossularia var. uva-crispa) and American (Ribes hirtellum). They are robust fruits that thrive in cool and humid climates. Germany, Russia, Poland and Scandinavia generally grow gooseberries on large commercial plantations, while gooseberries are often planted in small pick-your-own operations in the United States and Canada, according to Science Direct.

Gooseberries tend to grow on thorny bushes that can bear fruit for up to 20 years; home gardeners can also get used to plants growing against walls, where they will take up less space. Hendry recommends planting gooseberries in sunny spots, and says that the low maintenance requirements of hardy fruit make it particularly attractive to home growers.

"The gooseberry needs a well-drained soil with plenty of organic material, such as compost, but it doesn't need a lot of fertilizer," says Hendry. "It needs a balanced organic fertilizer once a year, just before it starts growing. An annual mulching of compost or other organic matter should be sufficient.

Gooseberries
Red gooseberries like this have more sugar than green ones and are tastier for a raw snack.

They can also be low maintenance, but that's not why gooseberries can be planted everywhere in the United States. The restrictions date back to a federal ban in the early 1900s, when growers realized that gooseberries were an intermediate host for a harmful disease that attacks the white pine.

In 1966, restrictions on gooseberries went from a federal ban to state jurisdictions. Now, most states welcome gooseberries with open arms, but some states like Maine still have restrictions. White pine is an integral part of the state's economy, so the "sale, transportation and possession of currants spp. [gooseberries and currants] is illegal in much of Maine," according to the state government of Maine.

WHERE CAN YOU BUY GOOSEBERRIES IN THE UNITED STATES?

It may be a lesser known fruit, but nowadays you can buy gooseberries everywhere. Shops like Trader Joe's, Walmart and even Amazon sell these berries. Indian grocery stores usually also sell amla, Indian gooseberries, in the fruit and vegetable or frozen departments.

Gooseberry Online | Falconfresh Online Supermarket Dubai | Best ...
Amla (Indian gooseberry)

You can also eat it directly in production, looking for gooseberries on owned farms all over the country, with points everywhere from Rhode Island to Washington.

And if you're trying to grow your own gooseberries, then try to get your own gooseberries, Hendry says the best thing is to start the harvest step by step.

You can distribute the harvest by harvesting some of the young, underripe berries from early summer for cooking. The remaining berries can be picked in stages, or left to grow until they are fully ripe," Hendry says. "In winter it's a good idea to prune the new berries about half as much to keep them productive, but even neglected gooseberry shrubs can bear fruit well, so they really are a low-maintenance plant.

HOW DOES IT TASTE?

Gooseberries are available in a variety of colours, including yellow, red, pink, green and purple. The two main categories of gooseberries are green and red; green is the most common and neutral in taste, while red gooseberries have more sugar and are tastier for raw snacks.

Fascinating facts: gooseberries | RHS Grow Your Own / RHS Gardening

Gooseberries can be eaten raw, but Hendry says they're especially tasty when cooked.

"Gooseberries must be cut by removing the ends, then they can be used for cakes and crumbles, made into jam or dried into fruit bars," says Hendry. "The taste is quite sour, so they're usually best mixed with sugar." There are some dessert varieties [like Invicta gooseberries] that are a little sweeter when they are fully ripe.

Cakes and jams are the classic use for gooseberries, but with its sourness it lends itself to many creative recipes. Some gooseberry recipes are over a century old and are part of the American tradition, as timeless and creative as gooseberry Champagne, gooseberry wine and green gooseberry cheese.

From: howstuffworks.com

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