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Gilbert’s superb gooseberry gin recipe

photo of dessert gooseberries

Dessert gooseberries

It was Gilbert who introduced me to gooseberry gin. He produced a battered old hip flask out of a hidden pocket in his fatigues. We were foraging for wild cherry plums and were resting on a mossy bank. Gilbert opened the stopper with a flourish.
“I bet that you haven’t tasted this delicacy before.”
One sip and I was hooked and eager to make my own. I even had an old inherited hip flask knocking about the cottage somewhere.

This particular brew was made from red dessert gooseberries. These berries are far less tart than the green ones and can be guzzled raw. Consequently red gooseberry liqueur calls for less sugar in the mix. In the recipe below I give sugar quantities for both red and green gooseberries. As you can see from the photo I prefer to pick my dessert gooseberries when they are still not quite ripe. In a couple of weeks time I’ll make a sweeter ripe red version.

When I first tasted Gilbert’s grog we just had one green gooseberry bush in the garden. A nameless variety that I’d swapped with an old gardener in the village for a few jars of chutney. It’s easy to miss an occasional berry and this one bush has self seeded – the progeny are two hefty children and just this year I spotted a new baby.

Since our foraging outing was in Autumn, the gooseberry picking season was over, I immediately invested in two Hinnonmaki Red gooseberry plants from Homebase. These are reasonably priced slim line bushes that are sold in oblong boxes and need a few years to establish themselves well. If you are impatient for a more mature gooseberry bush there loads available online but to be quite honest we’ve had great results from the Homebase ones. It’s worth taking a peek in the boxes and choosing the ones that have the best, sturdy growth.

If you are a  gooseberry fan, investing in a desert gooseberry bush as well as a green one extends the season as dessert gooseberries ripen far later than the tart, green ones.

Back to Gilbert’s gooseberry gin. This is superb and well worth making even if you have to buy the gooseberries. It can be drunk neat, ideally poured over ice. The grog makes a good long drink topped up with fizzy water. Gooseberry gin is perfect poured over ice cream. Of course gin soaked gooseberries can be added to a fool, crumble or pie. One year I froze the gin infused fruit and made a scrummy sauce to accompany the Christmas goose.

Gilbert’s superb gooseberry gin recipe
Recipe Type: Liqueurs
Prep time: 15 mins
Total time: 15 mins
  • 500g of gooseberries
  • 1 litre of medium quality gin
  • 100g of white granulated sugar for very ripe dessert gooseberries/ 200g of white granulated sugar for less ripe dessert gooseberries/ 375g of white granulated sugar for ordinary green gooseberries
  1. Wash gooseberries, top and tail and discard any bruised fruit. Cut the gooseberries in half and place in either a large Kilner/Le Parfait jar or divide the raspberries between 2 (70 cl) saved gin bottles. I use a 1.5 litre gin bottle.
  2. Using a funnel, add the sugar (divide the amounts if using several bottles) and top up with gin to the rim.
  3. Shake every day until the sugar is dissolved and then store in a cool, dark place until you can resist it no longer (leave for at least four months, we usually let steep for 6 months).
  4. Drain the liqueur through muslin after six months and freeze the discarded fruit to pep up dishes at a later date. Taste and add more sugar if necessary. Bottle the liqueur and store in a dark, dry place.



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  1. I have just moved to a house with a glorious vegetable and fruit patch and was feeling uninspired with the probability of many jam and crumble making days lying ahead THEN I found this recipe. The gooseberries are sitting in the gin as I write. I can’t wait to try this in 4 months time 🙂 Thank you.

  2. Jayne Block

    Great recipe but I wouldn’t use the gin bottles – too difficult to decant!

  3. Rachael,

    I really have no idea about what has gone wrong. I made another batch last summer and I shall not open the sealed kilner jars to filter and decant when next years gooseberries are ripe.
    I always wash all the gooseberries after topping and tailing and then freeze them for a least a week before I use them.

    I have never had any of my fruit liqueurs “go off”.

    My only inclination is if you have been “checking” it too often – opening up and perhaps tasting with an unsterilised spoon.

    Even so it is odd since the high alcohol level would normally inhibit any “infection”

    I have just been filtering my version of Creme de Cassis and have bottled 4 x 375 ml bottles up and I shall keep the other two jars on the fruit until after Easter.

  4. Hi, I’ve made some red gooseberry gin but it smells (and tastes) really mucky, has anyone got any experience or advice of how to fix this..?

  5. Trevor

    I have just picked 3 kg of gooseberries and topped and tailed them and will “gin” some of them tomorrow.
    There has been no summer so far this year in England. May, June and so far in July has been the wettest time since records were started over a hundred years ago. In fact it is raining right now as though it hasn’t rained for a month — simply tippling it down.
    I picked the gooseberries sonce some were beginning to split ( too much water available) before they are as ripe as I like them. Thre is still a good picking left and I will give them another week.
    I have also stripped my 2 redcurrant bushes and will do a red currant gin that I do most years

    I have also stripped my 4 blackcurrant bushes and collected a total of only 32 berries in all!!!!!!!!!

    My loganberries have really struggled with the weather and I have frozen only just about a 1/2 litre for use later. I am hoping that the weather improves ( as the UK forecasters promise for the Olypics) so the my blackberries produce a good crop. Lots of blossom on now despite the weather and with sunshine
    I did try a “Rose Hip Gin last year as an experiment — I used a litre of gin with whole uncrushed hips which I had previously frozen. I have only just filtered it off for use and find it a very delicate flavour on the rocks and I shall make it again

  6. Just got my red currunt gine under way last week and I have some 4kg of Gooseberries just from two bushes ( in their second year) which I thought was good. So i shall try the gooseberry gin and it should be a welcome addition to next summer!

    Just in passing I am also using a glut of fresh pineapples in two ways

    One is to make 5 gallons (IMP) of pineapple wine. The required pineapples were trimmed and sliced over a couple of weeks and are waiting in the deep freeze for a free fermenter. Later today I shall use a newly fresh pineapple to start off a “Pineapple Liqueur” using brandy this year as opposed to Vodka

    I picked about a lb of rosehips yesterday and have been looking around the net for ideas in a “Rose hip Gin” and i suspect that the result might be a bit “iffy”. however I shall give it a try and will postt he result of my eforts — and the way I do it ( — not yet decided –)
    Lastly I have a sufficient mix of loganberries, Blackberries,Blackcurrants and red currants in my freezer tofor me to make a 5 gallon lot of “summer fruits” red wine — again when my primary fermentes become available ( which should be next week!)

  7. Are you ever sober?!

  8. Kooky Girl

    Just the various things that you did with this alone, makes me want to make it. Hope you’re all well and enjoying the rain. KG. :o)

  9. barney

    i am getting a little concerned by my excitement levels when a new booze item appears i am definitely going to try this one;0)

  10. ruthie@thetwicebitten

    Wow, fantastic idea and lovely blog.

    I love gooseberries and I love gin. So it is a perfect combination.

    I’ve never foraged for cherry plums before so i’ll need to keep an eye out for them

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