A simple, sweet-tart gooseberry compote makes a delicious dish on its own but is also the basis for many more recipes. Gooseberry compote blended with a mix of custard and cream (or custard and yoghurt for a slightly sharper flavour) becomes a luscious Gooseberry Fool. When topped with meringue and baked becomes a Gooseberry Snow and who can resist a buttery, sweet Gooseberry crumble with lashings of custard or cream.
It is not, however, the sweetness of a gooseberry compote that makes a gooseberry shine; the gooseberry is also the perfect partner for smoked and oily fish and a must with pan-fried mackerel. When using for savoury dishes, go easy on the sugar; you will still need some, but not as much as for a pudding.So, this compote is just as at home with meats and fish as it is with the crumble topping, thus making it a very versatile fruit indeed.
- 450g (3 cups) gooseberries, top and tailed*
- 28g (3 tablespoons) fine/caster sugar
- A splash of Elderflower cordial (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4.
- Scatter the gooseberries onto a baking sheet and sprinkle with the sugar. Bake in the preheated oven until tender, this will take about 20 - 30 minutes.
- Tip the gooseberries into a bowl and squash gently with a fork to break up the fruit and release the juice. Taste to check sweetness and add more sugar if required, this is personal preference and also depends on the end use of the compote. If you intend to use with fish or meat then go easy on the sugar.
- Add the Elderflower cordial if using (again, taking note for the end use of the compote)
- Use as desired, or serve with cream as a simple pudding. The compote will keep well in the refrigerator for a few days and is also good for freezing. Use within a couple of months if frozen to make sure you eat the compote at its best.
- If you want a finer, seed-free compote, blend the compote in a food processor to the consistency you like, then pass through a sieve. The resulting texture will be very loose.
- For a slightly chunkier compote, put two-thirds of the berries into the blender, whizz to your preferred consistency, pass through a sieve and then add back the whole gooseberries. This method for a compote can be then used for relish, crumbles Fools and Gooseberry Snow.
Topping and tailing a gooseberry involves nipping off any remaining stalk on the top of the gooseberry, and likewise the little spike at the bottom. It is not absolutely essential to do this, however, it does make for a much better texture in the finished dish.