West Indian Gooseberry Syrup and Candy
I went to Guadeloupe for the weekend with my husband and this was the first time I got to really explore their food. This island is not good for a vegan food experience as veganism and vegetarianism is not in their culture at all but, their food identity on the French speaking island is very strong and this is something I admire and respect. This island is great for a fruit and food experience more so than vegetarian food. I did not starve over the weekend as I ate lots of ground provisions and creole sauces I was just missing my protein. What I loved was getting up and picking fresh fruits some that I never tried as there are fruits that grow mainly in Guadeloupe and not Barbados. I was very happy to see old time favourites like gooseberries and guavas being sold in the big markets. The markets in Guadeloupe are magical and only produce from Guadeloupe is sold and some from neighbouring Dominica. I get a little upset when I see the vendors in Barbados selling me apples from North America and grapes. If I want that I would go to the supermarket. There are some who sell local fruits but many of these trees are disappearing due to construction and people just do not care.Old women sell mainly local herbs and some fruits and they do not sell imported fruits which is something that needs to be preserved.Many people who make preserves grow the tree around their home because many of these trees are nonexistent now. I bought back several spices and herbs with me and I cannot cover Guadeloupe in one post. As time goes by I would post some of my findings from Guadeloupe. I have so many dry spice blends and notes I made in the market. I will be dealing with the French West Indies in my next couple of posts.
One of my findings at the Saturday market was some gooseberries. There were getting a little too ripe for my liking but I bought them anyways because I did not see them anywhere else. I was a little annoyed as I wanted to make a sticky gooseberry preserve with my gooseberries but there were too ripe so I decided to stew them in some sugar and cinnamon syrup and refrigerate them. If I get greener fresher gooseberries next time I would share a nice recipe for a preserve that is found all over the Caribbean including Barbados and Guadeloupe. Gooseberries are very tart and I would not attempt to eat them as it anymore. I use to eat these when I was at secondary school with a little salt to cut the tartness. There is a woman self help store in Barbados which sells preserved gooseberries that are packed in a plastic wrap and are not overly juicy. They boil all of the acid out the fruit and add sugar and spice.Unfortunately for me my gooseberries were not in any shape to be prepared like that so I did an alternative recipe.
Double strength simple syrup, which can be made by adding 3 cups of brown sugar and 2 1/2 cups water
You will add these together with ground spice( cassia) or cinnamon stick, a little nutmeg, ground clove and simmer on low heat stirring a few times. When it comes to a boil it will go clear.
Blanche your gooseberries by adding them to a pot of room temperature water and bringing them to a boil. Turning off the heat and draining them. This creates a wrinkled berry with a ruptured outer membrane. It makes it easier for the syrup to penetrate.Add your gooseberries to the surup and boil for 1 hour on low heat. Your gooseberries would go from green to red. Add more spices during the cooking time and simmer with the pot cover off.
The key is to
1. Blanche your gooseberries in water first
2. Make the syrup
3. Cook for about an hour in the spiced syrup and cool. As the syrup cools it gets very thick
This can be eaten as is or used to top ice cream. I stirred some into my oatmeal this morning to add a sweet and almost sour flavour. You can remove the seeds and stew the gooseberries to make a compote or make it into a jam if you have very fresh gooseberries. If you have very ripe ones like me it is best to stew them in sugar and spice.