Gooseberry and Beetroot Ketchup

In the past I've bored everyone I know and anyone unfortunate enough to stumble across this blog by wittering on about how undervalued I think gooseberries are these days. They make very fine jam and puddings, of course, but they're possibly even better in savoury dishes. So I can't let the gooseberry season pass without one more savoury recipe and this year it's a ketchup. Very easy and very delicious I promise. The weather hasn't been perfect this spring or summer so far (I'm a master of understatement) but the gooseberries finally arrived in abundance at the local pick-your-own farm. I really love a PYO and I'm not ashamed to say it.
Gooseberries at the PYO
I've combined the sharp gooseberries with the sweetness of beetroot and I suppose I should suggest that you pick fresh beetroot and cook your own. That's a very good thing to do but vacuum-packed, cooked beetroot without added vinegar will definitely do the job if you're pushed for time (and I bet you are).

Gooseberries are traditionally used alongside fish and this ketchup would work very well with fish burgers or fish cakes, but it's much more versatile than that. In particular, it's very fine with a classic beef burger. You could probably live without my recommendation but I'd say a burger made from the luxurious Wagyu beef produced by Ifor Humphreys in Powys and served in a freshly-baked brioche bun would be just about as good as it gets for me.
Gooseberry and Beetroot Ketchup
This will make roughly 400 - 500 ml of ketchup but it's difficult to be exact because much will depend on the juiciness of your gooseberries and just how thick you like your ketchup. Although the amounts given here worked for me, it's a forgiving recipe and you can change the spices to suit your taste. I won't be cross if you do.

1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
½ chilli (or more if you like some heat), deseeded and finely chopped
1 cm ginger (or thereabouts), peeled and grated
500 g gooseberries
100 ml cider (or white wine) vinegar
¼ tsp salt
A generous few turns of pepper
125 g granulated sugar
1 tsp English mustard powder
175 g cooked beetroot

Put all the ingredients in a non-reactive pan, place on a gentle heat and bring to the boil, stirring frequently. Simmer over a gentle heat for 30 minutes or so until all the ingredients are very tender.

Liquidise and then sieve the mixture. Taste and adjust the seasoning and the sweet/sour (vinegar/sugar) balance if it needs it. Hopefully the consistency will be to your liking but if it's too thin then return it to the cleaned pan and reduce it over a medium heat until you get the thickness you prefer. (It will thicken somewhat as it cools, so don't overdo it).

Cool a little and pour into sterilised bottles. This should keep for a few months in a cool, dark cupboard although I store it in the fridge just to be on the safe side and it should definitely be put in the fridge once opened.


  1. I agree with you Phil that gooseberries are undervalued. You don't see them often in the supermarkets, or even in my local market.This sounds a great way to use them.

    1. You're right about the availability in supermarkets. The only ones I've seen this year looked a bit sad and were surprisingly expensive. Perhaps if some trendy TV chef uses them then the situation might change.

  2. What a lovely idea. Sounds delicious.

    1. I tried a dash or two of the ketchup with some simply cooked, lightly smoked salmon fillets this evening and it worked well for me. Probably a bit tricky finding gooseberries in your part of the world, though.

  3. There are no gooseberries here in the Loire, sadly. I do have a gooseberry bush but it's just a baby so no fruit yet. I'm keeping my fingers crossed as everyone says it's impossible to grow them round here.
    My parents had a gooseberry bush which, along with the rhubarb, provided us with puddings all summer. How I miss all that lovely, free fruit. We love gooseberries, although picking them can be treacherous, all those thorns.

    1. Come to think of it I can't remember seeing gooseberries growing anywhere in France south of Normandy. I suppose I assumed that it was because nobody liked them south of Normandy. I don't know why they might not grow in the Loire, although they might need a fair amount of watering in the summer. They can be prone to mildew and maybe that's the problem. I really hope you succeed - you might start a trend. Then again, I don't grow them any more - I let the PYO do the work.

  4. I'm also a bore about the humble goosegog too Phil, so I'm with you on that subject! This recipe for the ketchup is a great idea how to use two undervalued veggies and I'm bookmarking it to make soon! Thanks, Karen

  5. PS: I DO have FOUR gooseberry bushes with LOTS of fruit here in the Charente Maritime, brought over from Yorkshire and doing well!

    1. Thanks for that - I'm really pleased to hear it. It sounds as though the lack of gooseberry plants in parts of France may be down to taste or custom rather than horticultural difficulties.


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