Saturday, July 12, 2008

Can’t find the berries you’re looking for? Grow your own! - Gooseberry Sauce (Stachelbeersoße)

In her last entry, Nadia talks about her remedy to get the berries she could not buy in the United States: home gardening. And she gives us a new recipe for gooseberry sauce that might even be included in a future edition of Spoonfuls of Germany.

A few years after I came to the United States, my cravings for the berries that accompanied the summers of my childhood in Germany became so strong that I decided to grow my own – gooseberries, black currants, red currants, and elderberries. I was happily surprised to find all types of berry plants are available from nurseries in the United States.

I would have loved to include dishes like Gooseberry Pie, or my grandmother’s Elderberry Soup with Egg-white Dumplings, in Spoonfuls of Germany but since I knew these ingredients are very hard to find in North America, I left the recipes out.

Four years into my garden, I am thrilled to report that my undertaking has been successful. The hardy berry bushes are thriving here in northeast Pennsylvania. I was even able to grow black currants. In Germany black currants, which, just like gooseberries, cannot be eaten raw, are used to make jams and jellies that burst with flavor. Black currants might not be widely known in the United States today but they were once popular, before their ban in the early 1900s, that is. The ban was based upon the suspicion that black currants helped spread a tree disease--white pine blister rust--that was endangering the country’s lumber industry. The federal ban on growing currants was finally lifted in 2003, in perfect timing for me when I started my garden in 2004.

Of course I couldn’t stop at berry growing. I also started growing everything else that we can eat fresh from the garden, or that I can possibly freeze or preserve in any other way. In view of increasing food prices and the desire to better control the chemicals that we put into our bodies, home gardening is booming in the United States. Just recently, on June 11, the New York Times reported that “seed companies and garden shops say that not since the rampant inflation of the 1970s has there been such an uptick in interest in growing food at home.”

Germans have always been keen on organically grown products, as long as they don’t cost too much, and are easy to find. With food becoming more expensive in Germany as well – my mother just told me on the phone last weekend that for two pounds of white asparagus, two pounds of strawberries, and two pounds of cherries, she had to dish out 19 euros (about 30 US dollars) at a local farm stand – I think Germans will also latch onto growing fruits and vegetables in their back yard.

For those of you who can get their hands on fresh or frozen gooseberries (canned gooseberries are not suitable because they contain too much sugar), here’s a great sauce for roasted poultry or game.

8 ounces ripe gooseberries
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup chicken broth
¼ cup white wine
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons sour cream
Salt and freshly milled black pepper

1. Cook the gooseberries in the chicken broth, covered, until very soft. Strain them through a fine sieve or a food mill.

2. Deglaze the pan in which you roasted the poultry or game with the wine. Strain the juice into a small saucepan. Add the gooseberry puree and the ginger and simmer for a few minutes to thicken. Add the sour cream, salt and pepper and serve hot.

Pictures courtesy of Nadia Hassani and her garden.


farida said...

Ohh, talk about gooseberries. Living away from Azerbaijan, I miss them too. I am familiar with red gooseberries and I absolutely love them. They make great fresh preserves, compotes and desserts! Yours is a very interesting recipe!. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I made the chilled cherry soup with egg white dumplings for my book club. The soup was wonderful. The dumplings were flat and cooked eggy... Any ideas what I did wrong? followed the recipe directions, had wonderful stiff peaks on beaten whites, but the simmering in water didn't seem to cook the egg whites.
Barb Jacobs