Esther Copley on Making Gooseberry or Apple Fool

Strew green gooseberries, or apples peeled and cored, with a little good moist sugar, enough to draw the juice, but not so much as is required to sweeten them: say, to two quarts of fruit, a quarter of a pound or six ounces of sugar. When quite tender, pulp through a coarse sieve. Add what more sugar is necessary to bring it to a pleasant taste and a quart of new milk from the cow, with a tea-cupful of good cream; or, if no cream is at hand, boil the milk, mix with it an egg, or two yolks finely beaten. Let it thicken in the milk, but not boil; then set it aside to cool before mixing with the fruit. Stir all together till well united. A little grated ginger is sometimes added to gooseberry fool, nutmeg and lemon-rind to apple, and half a glass of brandy to either.

Esther Copley, The Housekeeper’s Guide (1838)

This Victorian-era recipe – from Esther Copley‘s clearly explained and comprehensive collection of the sort of no-nonsense dishes and methods that every good Victorian-era housekeeper should possess within their domestic repertoire – sounds like a much richer, more sumptuous (and scrumptious) fruit fool than the little pots of air-filled mousse with a bit of added flavouring that you usually see in the supermarkets.

The one tricky part of the recipe might be “new milk from the cow”, but you could always try warming a quart (2 pints, so this recipe probably serves around 8 or 10 people) of whole milk (or even gold top, if you’re feeling decadently fool-ish) to fresh-out-of-the-cow temperature instead.

As always, please do let me know if you decide to make your own fruit fool. Photos, even a video, along with your method and tasting notes would be greatly appreciated, either via the comments, or emailed in.

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