In Praise of the Oh-So-Amazing Gooseberry

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I just love berries! Not only are they sweet and delicious, but they are loaded with healthful antioxidants, vitamin A, vitamin C and fiber. Soon we’ll be heading into prime berry season. Strawberries are already here, and June marks the prime time for blueberries, raspberries and boysenberries, and other berries. There are scores of recipes and serving ideas for them. But there is another berry that’s available starting now in late spring that’s a little different and a nutritional powerhouse — Indian gooseberries, also known as amla fruit. The fruit is about the size of blueberries and looks sort of like veined, slightly hairy green grapes. They taste extremely tart, and ripened gooseberries are hard to find.

Since it is difficult to obtain riper gooseberries, the fruit is often used with sugar in dessert recipes. Indian gooseberries are a close relative to currants and should not be confused with Chinese gooseberries (AKA kiwifruit), Barbados gooseberries or star gooseberries. Gooseberries have been used in traditional Indian or Ayurveda medicine for centuries as well as finding their way to England and Western Europe into tasty cobblers, pies, crumbles, smoothies jams and preserves as well as cooked into sauces to accompany rich meats like roast duck and pork.

TS-513683646 Red GoodseberriesGooseberries have some amazing properties that make them extremely valuable to a healthy diet. Like most fruits, they are low in calories and fat and cholesterol-free. Gooseberries are a good source of vitamin C—about 50% of the day’s requirements in one cup serving — vitamin A, manganese and dietary fiber. According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Nutrient Data Laboratory, canned gooseberries are similar in nutrition to raw gooseberries. Since the raw berries are only available from about May through August, canned or gooseberries are available year round and can be acceptable substitutes. Look for fresh gooseberries in Whole Foods and your local farmers market in season or order fresh frozen ones online from Northwest Wild Foods in Burlington, WA. and there are a number of varieties. You can also buy red or green gooseberries at Northwest Wild Foods.

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Research shows that gooseberries have properties important for helping to ward off metabolic diseases and to maintain good health. These include anticancer, antioxidant, boosting the immune system, cholesterol balancing, and liver protecting properties. Gooseberries are especially useful for reducing cholesterol, fighting the development of plaque in the arteries and preventing oxidative stress on cells. By decreasing cholesterol, gooseberries can contribute to lowering plaque buildup in the arteries. A 2008 study found that people who consumed dried gooseberry extract showed a decrease in LDL cholesterol after six months and an increase in HDL (“good”) cholesterol. There has been research indicating that they may slow the growth of cancerous tumors as a result of the antioxidants in gooseberries that play a role in protecting cells from the damage.  As if these weren’t enough reasons to add Indian gooseberries to your diet, there have been indications that gooseberries are beneficial for people with diabetes and diabetic complications. A study published in 2012 stated that gooseberries had positive effects on fasting glucose levels.  A 2011 study found that taking gooseberry extract and green tea decreased measures of diabetes while improving oxidative status, which is the degree to which there is cumulative damage to the body by free radicals, which can occur in people diagnosed with diabetes.

Gooseberries pair well with other berries such as raspberries or strawberries. Since the early gooseberries are quite tart, they work best in recipes where they are first cooked in sugar as you would fresh cranberries. Here’s an easy recipe that teams Indian gooseberries with other power foods such as rolled oats, ground flax seed, cinnamon, walnuts and Greek yogurt. The sweet-tart of the gooseberries goes beautifully with crunchy nuttiness of the crisp while the Greek yogurt provides a creamy counterpoint. This is great for dessert or brunch.

Gooseberry Crisp

Gooseberry crumble

Gooseberry crumble

Serves 4

4 ½ cups gooseberries (or substitute blueberries)
4 Tbsp. brown sugar
4 Tbsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. chopped walnuts
1 cup rolled oats
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ cup whole wheat flour

Plain Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp. ground flax seed
4 Tbsp. coconut oil

  1. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Put gooseberries and sugar in a saucepan. Cover the pan and cook over low heat until gooseberries are tender, about 10 minutes. Pour into a 9 x 12 baking dish.
  2. For the crisp, place the oats, flax seed, flour and oil in a bowl and mix thoroughly with a fork.
  3. Stir in the brown sugar, cinnamon and the walnuts. Spread the entire crisp mixture evenly over the gooseberries. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden and bubbling. Serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt.


About Grace O

Grace O has been cooking and baking professionally and recreationally all of her adult life. As a child in Southeast Asia, she learned the culinary arts by her mother’s side in her family’s cooking school. She became so well versed in hospitality and the culinary arts, she eventually took over the cooking school and opened three restaurants. She is widely credited with popularizing shrimp on sugar-cane skewers and being one of the first culinarians to make tapas a global trend. She has cooked for ruling families and royalty. Grace O’s move to America precipitated a career in healthcare, inspired by her father, who was a physician. Twenty years and much hard work later, she operates skilled nursing facilities in California. Grace O strives to create flavorful food using the finest ingredients that ultimately lead to good health. Her recipes, although low in saturated fat, salt, and sugar, are high in flavor. Grace employs spices from all over the world to enliven her dishes, creating food that is different and delicious. She believes that food can be just as effective at fighting aging as the most expensive skin creams. And since she’s over 50 herself, she’s living proof of that.
What Do FoodTrients Do?
Ai Anti- inflammatories

Reduce inflammatory process in cells, tissues, and blood vessels, helping to slow aging and reduce risk of long-term disease.

Ao Anti- oxidant

Prevents and repairs oxidative damage to cells caused by free radicals.

IB Immunity Boosters

Support the body’s resistance to infection and strengthen immune vigilance and response.

MB Mind

Improves mood, memory, and focus.

F Disease Prevention

Reduces risk factors for common degenerative and age-related diseases.