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I remember gooseberries, or ‘goosegogs’ as my father calls them, from childhood. No matter how badly things were going in the rest of the fruit and veg patch (drought, deer, birds and rabbits being the main culprits) the gooseberry bushes remained resolutely unaffected. They didn’t seem to need any attention and so they got none. Even when the hairy green fruit appeared I don’t think they received anything like the drooling delight that strawberries and raspberries did. I picked them on hot sunny days when the fruit was warm, almost prickly and sickly smelling.

Now I love gooseberry fool and think of gooseberries like damsons, a quintessentially English fruit that seems to have dropped out of favour and so is hard to find in the supermarket. Such a shame as surely they are a great herald of high summer. According to Sybil Kapoor in ‘Simply British’, they are not actually native to Britain but first arrived in England in 1275 when Edward I imported some direct from France for his garden at the Tower of London. By the early eighteenth century we were addicted – gooseberry clubs were set up and the newly formed Horticultural Society of 1826 listed 185 strains in its first catalogue. As other fruits became more available throughout the year, the gooseberry suffered and again, just like the damson, you are more likely to find them now in a country garden (or kitchen) than anywhere else.

I found the berries in our farmers market but if you can’t find them there try frozen or apparently you can get tinned. I halved this recipe and used more yoghurt than cream as that happened to be the situation in my fridge. This recipe is one I made up from several others – the inclusion of lemon rind being entirely my own invention but when tasting it before putting it in the fridge it definitely needed some added sharpness. Apparently elderflower is a common partner and works well too.

Gooseberry fool

Serves 8

800g gooseberries

200g golden caster sugar

500ml double cream

500ml plain yoghurt

zest of one lemon

Put the gooseberries and sugar in a saucepan over a medium heat. Stew for 10 mins, until softened, then let them cool. Whip the cream to very soft peaks and fold in the yoghurt. Fold in three quarters of the cool gooseberries through the cream and add the lemon zest. Spoon the fool in to glasses or little bowls and spoon over the remaining berries and leave in the fridge until needed (this will help them set slightly). Serve with something like (hard) macaroons or biscotti for dunking.

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