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Easy to care for, tolerates partial shade and the fruits are sweet and sour on the tongue. Gooseberries have been part of Central European cuisine for centuries and are often eaten raw or processed into compote. Many people like to harvest the berries, not only the bushes in their own garden, but also wild forms in forests and bushes are not spared. The harvest time is crucial, as is when they are ripe and digestible for the stomach.

harvest time

Do you know that? You will find gooseberries (bot. Ribes uva-crispa) on your walk in the forest and the berries look delicious. They are picked in no time and land in your mouth. The still slightly sour taste spreads and a few hours later you feel a little uncomfortable in your stomach. Then the gooseberries weren't quite ripe yet. When you harvest the berries does not only depend on the period of the harvest. The ripening time also plays an important role here, since the berries are harvested depending on their intended use. However, the general harvest time takes place as follows.

  • unripe berries: Beginning of May - June, depending on the weather
  • ripe berries: June - late August
Cultivate gooseberries as a standard

Gooseberries can theoretically be harvested twice a year due to their different uses. However, it is important to consider what they are used for and how the point in time affects the possible uses. The following locations have a strong effect on the formation of the fruit and usually a lower yield can be expected.

  • full sun locations: too much sun without shade burns leaves, flowers and fruit
  • Dryness: dry locations also result in lower crop yields as this stresses the plants

It is therefore best to choose shrubs for your harvest that have sufficient shade available, for example in forests or near fruit trees. And don't worry. Avoid the spikes with gardening gloves, long-sleeved clothing and a little patience.

Tip: Note that the development of the immature fruits can be delayed in May if late frosts have occurred. Although Ribes uva-crispa is very robust and copes well with the temperatures in Germany, frost can have a negative effect on flowering, which can inevitably lead to a later harvest with a lower yield.

Gooseberries on the bush


When to harvest berries?

Gooseberries are one of the plants that can be used in multiple ways. The two maturity levels listed below come into question.

unripe berries

Unripe gooseberries are formed very early and can be picked without any problems from May if the weather is good. At this point they are still a bit smaller and very sour. Even adults make faces when they are immature. In addition, the shell is still very thick at this stage and may belch a little in the stomach as it is quite difficult to digest. You should not eat the unripe fruits raw, but you can do a lot with them if you process them into the things listed below.

  • compost
  • jam
  • juice
  • cake topping

green selection

the green selection, as the harvesting of the unripe gooseberries is called, is mainly used for further storage of the berries. Since the fruits of Ribes grossularia, another name of the species, cannot be transported when ripe, they are only harvested in large quantities when unripe in order to be processed further. For this reason, you will usually only find green, extremely sour gooseberries in the supermarket that you can then process. The advantage: the Grünauslese contains a lot of pectin compared to the ripe fruits, which makes the use of an additional gelling agent for further processing unnecessary.

Green harvest of gooseberries

ripe berries

Gooseberries begin to ripen for consumption from June, usually mid-June and this process continues until the end of August. With each passing day, the berries grow larger, change color, for example to a bright red, and the aroma becomes sweeter and sweeter. Did you know that the ripe fruits of Ribes uva-crispa have the second highest sugar content of the native berries after table and wine grapes? However, this sweetness is only reached towards the end of the harvest season. However, they are already ripe in mid-June. From this stage, the possible uses are as follows.

  • Jelly: Mid June to early July
  • Jam: mid-June to mid-July
  • raw consumption: Mid-July to the end of the ripening period

Since it is almost impossible to transport the ripe berries from mid-July, they are harvested and nibbled directly from the bush from this point on. If you carry out the green selection and the harvesting of the ripe fruits together in the year, you can enjoy them from May to the end of August. Different varieties do not affect the length of the harvest and ripening period.

Tip: You can tell if your gooseberry bush has been well cared for by the abundance of berries. The more the branches bend down under the weight of the berries, the higher the yield and the better the plant will do.

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