Fruity and refreshing – it goes without saying that gooseberries belong in summer. But when exactly is the best time to harvest the fruits of Ribes uva-crispa? The tasty berries sometimes shine red, sometimes green on the bushes. The gardener can therefore only vaguely orientate himself by the colour. In addition, the taste depends on whether the gooseberries are already ripe when harvested.

Recommended harvest time

As with almost all types of fruit, the ideal time to harvest varies from year to year, since the maturity of the fruit depends on the weather. The variety of Ribes uva-crispa also plays a crucial role. In general, gooseberries begin to ripen around the end of June. With regard to the intended use, it is advisable to spread the harvest over the whole summer.

Ripening times of selected varieties at a glance

  • Höning’s earliest: end of June/beginning of July
  • Rokula: early/mid July
  • White Triumph: mid-July
  • Rolanda: mid/late July
  • Red Triumph: mid/late July
  • Reflamba: late July/early August
Note: If you want to harvest fresh berries from the bush all summer long, it is best to cultivate several different varieties. It should be noted that early-bearing plants do not get frost, grow on deep, permeable soil and are in a shady location. This prevents the fruit from burning.

taste development

Most people know the gooseberry as a typically sour fruit. However, if the gardener lets the fruits really ripen, they develop a high fructose content. Surprisingly, fully ripe gooseberries are (right after plums) one of the most sugary fruits in the world. However, in order to be able to enjoy the sweetness, the gardener must be patient and harvest the berries as late as possible. On the other hand, self-sufficient people who appreciate the typical acidity do not have to wait until the fruit is ripe.

Harvested too early? Green, sour gooseberries continue to ripen when stored in a cool place.
In order to test the state of ripeness of the gooseberries, the gardener can use two characteristics as a guide:

  • shell strength
  • color

To check the strength, he uses the pressure test:

  • Enclose the fruit with your index finger and thumb
  • gently apply pressure
  • if the pulp hardly yields, the berry tastes sour
  • if it yields slightly to the pressure, the berry tastes crisp and fruity-sour
  • if the skin is already soft, the berry tastes sweet

Determining the color is less revealing as it can also be misleading. Some Ribes uva-crispa varieties produce only green fruits. However, these take on a yellow hue as soon as they are ripe. White varieties promise wonderful sweetness when they have an almost translucent skin. In the case of red varieties, the gardener should not harvest the berries when a slight purple tinge is forming. Over time, the gooseberries turn completely red and glow intensely. Only then are they really ripe.

Note: Even those who prefer the development of the full sweetness should not wait too long to harvest. Overripe gooseberries usually burst open and then only taste like soap.

Adapt the harvest time to the intended use

The more the gooseberries ripen, the softer the skin and flesh become. Ripe fruits can therefore only be stored for a short time. In general, there is nothing nicer in summer than nibbling on sweet berries straight from the bush. However, the pectin content gives way to the fructose during the ripening process. If you want to use gooseberries to make jam, you should pick them when they are unripe. This is already possible at the end of May. Thanks to the pectins, the fruits bind ideally when they are boiled. As a result, only small amounts of jam sugar are required. That guarantees healthy enjoyment.

Tip: The gardener should not be afraid to pick part of the harvest early and process it into jam. In a suitable location, Ribes uva-crispa usually bears many fruits. Due to the short-term thinning out during the harvest, more sunlight reaches the remaining gooseberries. As a result, they develop their sweetness all the more intensively.

harvesting technique

Work before pleasure. The former requires the right harvesting technique for gooseberries. There are many small thorns on the branches. This is how the gardener harvests the fruit without injuring himself:

  • Wear protective gloves (also protect the forearms and legs)
  • select supporting branch
  • pull up with one hand or bend to the side
  • pick the gooseberries with your free hand
Tip: If you want to save yourself the time-consuming protective measures for the harvesting technique, cultivate bred, thornless Ribes uva-crispa species. Recommended varieties are, for example, Larell or Spinefree, whose red fruits develop a wholesome sweetness. The Redeva variety is also very popular due to its few thorns. The latter has the advantage of a high yield, which unfortunately falls by the wayside with thornless shrubs.


Gooseberries belong in the refrigerator after harvesting. They will keep here for about a week or two. In order not to destroy the protective film, the gardener should only wash them immediately before consumption. It is also advisable to spread out the fruits and not to stack them on top of each other. If you don’t want to do without the sweet and sour berries outside of the harvest season, you can store them in the freezer for up to a year. In this case, it is worth removing the stems and dirt beforehand.
Note: Red varieties tend to soften quickly. Because of the hard skin, green gooseberries are better for freezing.

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