Wild gooseberries, really any gooseberries, are too tart to make a good ice cream, at least to my mind. Like lemons, they are more sorbet material. We get these crazy Sierra gooseberries up in our mountains here in California, which ripen to a delicious scarlet color. They have an aroma like Sweet Tart candy and just enough sweetness to want to get beyond those hideous spines that protect each fruit.
Even the Eastern wild gooseberry will sport prickly spines, so you will need to make gooseberry juice before you can start making sorbet. The juice takes a couple days to make, but it can store in the fridge a while.
I always add liqueur to my sorbets, because it raises the freezing point of the mixture, making the resulting sorbet smoother. But what liqueur to add to wild gooseberries? Something light in color, definitely. And something that will complement the flavor of the gooseberry. I went with pear liqueur because I had it — it’s delicious. But a good substitute would be peach schnapps, or any light-colored, medium-alcohol liquor.
If you have none of these lying around the house, use 2 tablespoons of vodka; vodka has a higher alcohol content than most sweet liqueurs, so you need less.
Makes about 1 quart
- 1 1/2 to 2 pints gooseberry juice
- 3 tablespoons pear liqueur or peach schnapps
- Sugar to taste, but at least 1/2 cup
- Make the gooseberry juice first, following these instructions. This can be done up to a week in advance.
- Pour the gooseberry juice into a bowl and sweeten it to taste. Remember that sugar helps give the sorbet a smoother texture and that our perception of sweetness decreases with cold foods, so make this pretty sweet; I use 2 cups of sugar typcially.
- Mix the sugar, gooseberry juice and liqueur together until the sugar is dissolved. Pour into the container of your ice cream maker and follow its directions.