I grew up in the countryside with a lot of wild produce & family grown fruits at our garden. The one fruit with biggest memories is gooseberry only because I fell into a bush and scratched myself all over, but the sweet & sour fruit with gentle bitters made up for the accident. I have not had gooseberries for several years, so I was excited when I found fresh gooseberries here in Singapore.
Gooseberries grown in Europe & North America are usually hairy with spikes but are very juicy and fruity. On the other hand, Indian gooseberries commonly known as amla are very hard and acidic with a dry finish. Indian gooseberries are in season from October to April.
Amla has originated from the subtropical regions of India. The fruit has been mainly used in medicine and culinary while it’s tree has gain religious importance to local folklore since 1500 – 3000 BC. Today Indian gooseberries are grown around Asia, and you can find them under these name Ma Khan Pom (in Thailand), Anmole (in China), Skyu ru ra (at Tibet) and Zee Phyu Three (in Myanmar).
There are several different varieties, and you can recognise them just by the colour: neon green, golden yellowish hue, dusky pink, rust red or even white.
Despite the hard, bitter, pungent and acidic taste of amlas, they have been cooked into chutneys, candies and even preserved into a “honey” syrup with many health benefits including the prevention of common cold and flu.
I have been playing with it, and here is a recipe for syrup.
Amla “Gooseberry” Honey (Syrup)
1kg amla (indian gooseberries)
1kg caster sugar
1kg still water
Wash your amla’s very well. Bring water to boil and place indian gooseberries into boiling water.Cook for 3 – 5 min to soften the gooseberries. Once soft, strain them of the water and let it cool down and deseed the gooseberries. Once you have separated the fruit from stone, place the fruit into pot and add all sugar over it. Let it sit for 3 – 5 days and sugar will extract the juice from the fruit, once. Strain the honey and bottle, keep refrigerated. This will keep for several weeks. Take the cooked gooseberries and dehydrate them, coat them in sugar or spices and serve tham as candy. Keep in dry cool place.
Amla Kir Royal
15 ml Amla honey
Top up with good quality Champagne or dry sparkling wine. Gently stir in a Champagne flute and enjoy.
Bartenders note: “Gooseberries works well with gin, rum & brandies!”