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When thinking of fresh produce, many of us would not immediately focus on gooseberries, persimmons or dandelions. However, some of our readers have requested recipes spotlighting these fruits and vegetables.

Gooseberries have a unique flavor combining the sweet and tangy nature of pineapple and Strawberries. There are two types: European gooseberries are larger, plumper and have more flavor, while American gooseberries are smaller and more tart.

England was known for its gooseberry recipes during Colonial days, including the classic dessert, Gooseberry Fool, which consists of cooked and pureed fruit folded into whipped cream. While gooseberries were the main ingredient in the classic recipe, nowadays it can be made with any type of fruit.

When selecting fresh gooseberries during the summer, look for fairly firm berries with an even color. There are different varieties including green, white, yellow and red. For less tartness, pick berries with a pink or purple tone. Green berries are usually the variety that is canned and available year-round.

Persimmons are a winter fruit, in season from October to February. Two varieties are usually found in the United States--Hachiya and Fuyu--and both have a red-orange skin when ripe. The Hachiya is very astringent and will pucker your mouth if even slightly under ripe. The Fuyu is firm when ripe and is not astringent.

Choose fruit that is plump, soft but not mushy, with a smooth and glossy skin. Fruit can be ripened at room temperature and then stored in the refrigerator for up to three days. Persimmons are an excellent source of vitamins A and C.

Yes, dandelions can be eaten--blossoms, leaves and roots. Be sure to pick plants that have not been contaminated by weed killers.

Young and tender dandelion leaves can be used as greens, either in salads or wilted like spinach. The plant that most people nowadays consider a weed was often sought as soon as it appeared by our pioneer ancestors as the first green vegetable after a long winter.

Dandelion blossoms are used in jellies and jams, and they can also be dipped in batter and deep fried. Dandelion roots are often roasted and ground for a coffee-like drink.

Many also consider the dandelion a medicinal herb. The plant is often cultivated to be used in tonics for a diuretic or laxative and as a remedy for stomach, kidney or liver complaints. Dandelion greens are an excellent source of vitamin A, iron and calcium.

Ask your grocer about gooseberries and persimmons, and as there is a cannery in Maine that imports and cans only dandelion greens, you might even find those in the grocery store.

Janice McReynolds, of Fort Scott, Kan., requested recipes for gooseberries, persimmons and dandelions.

Irene Smith, of Holly Hill, Fla., sent several recipes, including this one for gooseberries.
Gooseberry Relish

    5 cups gooseberries,
        washed and stemmed
1 1/2 cups seeded raisins
    1 onion, sliced
    1 cup brown sugar
    3 tablespoons dry mustard
    3 tablespoons ginger
    3 tablespoons salt
  1/3 teaspoon turmeric, optional
    1 quart mild vinegar

In a food chopper or processor, place gooseberries,
raisins and onion. Chop, then add
remaining ingredients.

Pour mixture into a large saucepan; bring
slowly to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 45
minutes. Strain through a coarse sieve.
Yields about 4 pints.

Ronnie Lappe, of Brownwood, Texas, sent a recipe that calls for persimmons.
Persimmon-Raisin Cookies

  1/2 cup butter OR margarine,
    1 cup sugar
    1 egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 cup persimmon pulp
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1 cup raisins
    1 cup chopped pecans

Heat oven to 350[degrees]E Grease cookie sheets; set

In a large bowl, cream butter;
gradually add sugar, beating well.
Add egg, and beat well.

In a separate bowl, combine
flour, spices and salt. Add to
creamed mixture, mixing well.
Combine persimmon pulp and
soda; stir well and add to creamed
mixture. Stir in raisins and pecans.

Drop dough by level tablespoonfuls
onto prepared cookie sheets.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until

Yields 3 dozen cookies.

Mrs. Russell Steelman, of Kokomo, Ind., sent a slightly different persimmon recipe.
Persimmon Pudding

3/4 cup sugar
  1 cup flour
  1 teaspoon baking soda
  1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
  1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup nuts
  1 cup persimmon pulp
  1 teaspoon vanilla

Heat oven to 350[degrees].

Mix together all ingredients.
Pour into loaf pan and bake for 1
hour. Oven temperature may be
raised to 375[degrees].

Sarah Vaughan, of Waterville, Maine, sent in several recipes, including this one for Dandelion Greens.
Dandelion Greens
  3 quarts dandelion greens
1/3 cup mild vinegar
      salt and pepper, to taste
  1 clove garlic, chopped,

Wash dandelion greens and discard
damaged leaves. Drain well
and chop coarsely.

In a skillet, fry some bacon until
crisp; remove from skillet. To the
bacon fat, add vinegar, salt and
pepper. If desired, add chopped
garlic. Add chopped greens to skillet
an      d cover tightly. Cook over low heat until

Lois Best, of Pawnee, Ill., wants to know how to make dandelion jelly.

Joann Campbell, of Richmond, Ohio, sent this recipe.
Dandelion Flower Jelly

    1 quart dandelion blossoms
    1 quart water
    1 package Sure-Jell
    1 teaspoon lemon OR orange extract
4 1/2 cups sugar

In the early morning, pick blossoms. Remove
and discard the stems. Wash the flowers and
then boil the blossoms in water for 3 minutes.
Measure out 3 cups of liquid and discard blossoms.
Add Sure-Jell, lemon extract and sugar to
liquid. Boil for 3 minutes, then skim off the
foam. Put in jars and seal.

Note: This jelly has a thin consistency. Reducing
the liquid to 2 2/3 cups firms it up nicely.

Zola Slyteris, of Woodridge, Ill., wrote to request a recipe for gooseberry pie that does not include tapioca.

Margaret McDonald, of Scottsburg, Ind., sent this recipe from a cookbook, "Recipe Book of Pies," that she found several years ago in Nashville, Ind. She says it is an old book, published in 1950, and that it includes recipes for pastry, tarts and 250 pies.
Gooseberry Pie

    3 cups gooseberries
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
  1/2 cup water
    2 tablespoons flour
  1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
  1/2 teaspoon cloves
  1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
    1 tablespoon butter
      crust for double-crust pie

Heat oven to 450[degrees]F.

In a large saucepan, combine gooseberries, 1 cup sugar and water; cook until berries are tender. Sift remaining sugar, flour, salt and spices. Stir into cooked mixture and cool.

Line 9-inch pie plate with 1 crust. Pour filling into pie shell; dot with butter. Cover with top crust. Bake for 10 minutes; reduce oven temperature to 350[degrees] and bake an additional 25 minutes.

To help another reader or to request a recipe, write to Readers" Favorite Recipes, c/o GRIT Magazine, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609. Please include your name, address and daytime phone. Include recipe source and number of servings when possible. Recipes cannot be returned as they are eventually sent to the person requesting the recipe. Recipe requests will be printed at our discretion as space allows.
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Title Annotation:Readers' Favorite Recipes
Author:Teller, Jean
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2005
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