Last summer, I became inspired to start fermenting stone fruits with the help of beeswax from a local apiary. Cherries resulted in boozy, floral flavor bombs while my batch of apricots burst open their wax coats after only a few days and became a huge mess. This summer, I’ve been enjoying the intense fermented flavors of strawberries. But after finding some gooseberries at the market the other day, I decided to veer even more off the path and keep experimenting with fermentation.
Gooseberries are tart.
Most people who bake with gooseberries douse them in cups of sugar to make them into delicious pies, crumbles, and tarts. But I was curious to see if there was another way to mellow the tartness of gooseberries without using sugar.
Gooseberry’s sharp tart bite mellows with the help of fermentation
After a week of fermenting in its robe of thick beeswax, the gooseberry begins to lose a bit of its prickly tartness and develop more subtle berry flavors. I pushed this fermentation out a few more weeks, and found that the berries are best around week three, where the tartness starts to develop into a sweeter tang and the floral notes from the beeswax start to shine through.
How to Make Fermented Gooseberries in Beeswax
Fermented Gooseberry in Beeswax
- 20 Gooseberries, with stems attached
- 1/2 Cup plain yogurt (with live cultures)
- 1 Cup water
- 1/2 Cup beeswax (approximately 250 grams)
- Bowl of ice water
- Wash the gooseberries in cool water, removing any dirt and picking out any berries with bruises or blemishes.
- Mix the yogurt and water together in a small dish until no lumps remain.
- Dip the gooseberries in the yogurt mixture and allow to air dry either in the fridge or on the counter away from any heat or sun. This may take anywhere from 1 - 3 hours.
- Once the gooseberries are dry, heat up the beeswax on the stove. Place the beeswax in your smallest saucepot, and heat on low until completely melted.
- Set up for dipping the berries in the wax. I like to set the pot of hot wax on a trivet on a table next to a small bowl filled with ice and water. Holding the tip of berry stem with my thumb and pointer finger, I dip each berry completely into the hot wax, just up to my fingertip, making sure to completely cover the berry's flesh. I let the hot wax drip off for a second, and then cool it in the ice water for a few seconds and repeat until I have 6-8 coatings of wax on each berry.
- Allow the gooseberries to cool completely, and check for any cracks in the wax that may have developed. Re-dip these berries in hot wax.
- If the wax starts to set up and harden, bring it back to the stove and reheat.
- Once all the gooseberries are covered in wax, store in a single layer out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources. Let sit for a least a week, and check often for any burst berries. Toss any gooseberries that burst open, or start to leak liquid. Begin tasting the gooseberries after a week. They should be firm and look fresh when cut into. Their flavor will change the longer you let them ferment, the longest I've had success is around 3 weeks. After that, they begin to break down and develop off-flavors.