My short experiences with Ribes species in the Sierra Nevada has instilled in me a great appreciation for R. roezlii, the Sierra gooseberry. Formidable in preparation, it yields an amazing juice that tastes like everything good about a Sierra summer.
My currant experiences are less inspiring. Though a gorgeous plant, they are hard to find, hard to pick (usually deep in some creek brush), and don’t offer a gigantic yield. I may pick a few, should I find them, but I go to the mountains specifically for the gooseberries.
Where do I learn what a gooseberry looks like and the strains that are good to eat and ones to avoid? I am interested in learning about this and have time to do so… Who do I talk with? Where might I go? Do you have any good sources to assist in my learning process?
tomson, I’ve got “Edible and Useful Plants of California”, but Ms. Funk’s book may also be helpful. The book I use is helpful to a point, but once I’ve got a general idea, I find google to be very, very useful. For example, I googled “sierra gooseberry” pics to double-check. The pictures one gets online are often varied, which helps in identifying. Of course, you have to trust the photographer…
Ms. Funk often has events around native plants – maybe she’ll set up one around gooseberries and currants.
Sierra gooseberries are a very spikey 1/2 to 3/4″ ball – it looks like a tiny morningstar – at it will turn red when ripe. The spikes are tough to deal with (pick them with full leather gloves) and don’t get cooked out, so make a syrup by boiling the berries with sugar, and then straining through a sieve and cheesecloth.