Gooseberry pie is a pie that is comprised of a traditional pie crust and a fruit filling of gooseberries mixed with sugar. Gooseberries are native to Europe, northwestern Africa and southwestern Asia. They usually are hairy and green, although they occasionally can be found in smooth and red or purple varieties as well. Gooseberries are most often described as tasting like very sour grapes, which is why sugar is considered to be a crucial ingredient for a gooseberry pie.
It is not clear how gooseberries first received their name, although many people believe that the name originated from the German word krausbeere or the French word groseille, both of which are used as loose names for the berry. There is some evidence that the berry’s name derives from the fact that the plant was once commonly grown on the same grounds that geese lived on. Gooseberries thrive best in coastal and lakeside environments but also can be found in drier plains environments. The plants flourish as far north as Scotland and Norway, and many people believe that the berry’s flavor becomes sweeter with increasing latitude.
Recipes for gooseberry pie have been carried down from generation to generation and commonly vary in specifics, but the majority of recipes contain the same basic ingredients. The pie filling typically is made with egg, flour, sugar and gooseberries. This mixture is poured over pie crust, topped with a layer of crust, then can be sprinkled with brown sugar. It is baked until the crust becomes golden brown.
Recorded references to gooseberry pie have been found as early as the 17th century. In 1660, the romantic poet Robert Southey wrote an ode to the pie, expressing his deep affection for the distinctive dessert. The English village of Galmpton is famously known for holding a Gooseberry Pie Fair. Roads are closed for the annual fair so that large amounts of individuals can roam the streets with ease to visit food stalls and participate in various events.