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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. Mrs Reenee Robinson

    I have just made this receipe and I can’t wait till xmas I was wondering if I could do the same with blackcurrants

  2. Picked 11kg of gooseberries yesterday… there is only so much jam, chutney and crumbels I can face…so gooseberry gin is my next make. Never heard of it before buts what’s not to like. .gin gooseberries FANTASTIC.

  3. Deborah Morgan

    I’ve made this twice now. Everyone loves it. Make 3 litres at a time. This year I’ve substituted some Gin for vodka as its my own preferred drink, so we’ll wait and see….

  4. Trevor

    Just stripped my surviving bush of its fruit. For some reason the fruit is small this year and the total yield is only 800 gms.
    All topped and tailed, washed and now frozen for a few days.. enough for a litre and a half of gin.
    I also lost virtually my entire crop of red currants to a combined attack of birds and a new pair of grey squirrels ( aka tree rats) who seem to be newly arrived

  5. Karen Hudson

    I used your recipe last year, and the resulting bottle of goosegog gin was delicious. I’ve just made another batch with a few of this seasons crop. Its the easiest and best recipe I’ve found, so thank yoh for sharing it.

  6. Marilyn

    We used this recipe last year, the results were superb – also made a vodka version which also went down extremely well. Just harvested this year’s bumper crop of green gooseberries, as well as some red dessert ones and made up this year’s brew.

    • Trevor

      good to here. I had to uproot one of my 2 gooseberry bushes 2 years ago. it was alway set with mildew on the fruit and I could never get rid of it. I also “pruned” ( heavily hacked back)my other one which had grown out of control. So my gooseberrie crop is v small this year.
      I shall give them another week before picking to let them ripen before making my christmas booze.
      Amazingly my rhubarb which I was picking until late November last year — and prepfers a good hard winter –has done amazingly well ad I have 2 small crowns which are over 5 years old and produve 3 distinctly different rhubarb. did a Strawberry and rhubarb vodka lasr year and it was quite delish! Still got a couple of 375ml bottle left for this summer.

  7. Kim Peabody

    Could I seek your help, I made gooseberry liquer back in the summer and there is no flavour of gooseberry just strong of alcohol. Do you have any suggestions on how I can remedy this problem?

    • The short answer us that I have no idea.

      St least you should be able to use the gin as a normal ( sweeter) drink mixed with tonix etx
      As to what has happen all I xan telll you is what I do.
      with regard to prepong the gooseberriesI always top and tail them , wash then and then freeze them. for at lwat a xouple of days in a freezer ( not a fridge freezer)/ When I am ready to gp on , I defrost the gooseberries a while and then half them all.
      while still semi frozen I them make up the kilner jars with appropriate mix of gruit,. suhar and gin and shake regularly that day as the fruit finishes defrodting. Then away on iiiits maturing shelf.

      I do leave all my gppdrbrtty gid until Easter the gollowing year. Chridtmas the dame year us not long enough.

      BTW freexing the fruit eans rgat you maximise the extraction of juice.

      I do the same with all my country style liqueurs made in similar ways

      I have two Christmas blackberry/blacxcurrant liqueurs this year one is conac based and the other is vodka based. I actually think rgat the vogka one will be better
      Also I have done a Greengage Vodka kiqueur for the first time this year since I had my first crop of golden greengages this year. I had a test sip last w/e and it will be brill!
      Have a good Christmas

      • Sorry about “typos” — i had my first cataract replaced last Friday and i am still reduced to using on eye which is the next to be done!
        btw I am tapan/trevor

      • Mike Laver

        With all those typing errors looks like you have been on the gooseberry gin?

  8. brendan file barrett

    Pure magic

  9. It is that time of year again.

    Just picked 2 kg of gooseberries! They are no toopped, tailied and washed — now in the freezer,
    Tomorrow is blackcurrnt and red currant harvesting day! The birds beat me to them last year but I seem to be ahead of them this years

    I shall have a real bumper crop of blackberries in a coupple of weeks time — blackberry whisky is a well established favourite among my friends!!!!

  10. Clare hewitson

    Did you sterilise the bottle first?

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