Gooseberries are a late spring-early summer favorite in the Ozarks according to Patrick Byers, a horticulture specialist with University of Missouri Extension.
"Gooseberries also have roots in the Ozarks hills. They are native to much of southern Missouri," said Byers.
How difficult are gooseberries to grow? According to Byers, gooseberries are easy to grow. The small shrubs are useful in landscapes and reach three to four feet in height. The plants are relatively carefree (as far as pests) and one plant may produce up to 25 pounds of fruit.
"For the best results, I recommend planting the Pixwell, Poorman or Welcome varieties," said Byers.
When are gooseberries ready to harvest? Pick gooseberries when the berries are fully sized. Pick gooseberries when they are green and tart, which is when they are best for pies or cakes. If you pick gooseberries when fully ripe, purple or red or color with some sweetness, then use them in preserves or sauce.
"Most gooseberries are thorny plants so be sure to harvest with gloves," said Byers.
How should gooseberries be handled after harvest? First, remove the stem and the calyx then refrigerate the fruit until used in cakes, jams, preserves or sauces.
(by David Burton, Greene County Extension Center)