Angrešt – a giant grape or a berry?

I love it when I try a food thinking it’s something familiar and then get surprised by a new taste that is distinct and delicious; don’t you?

Locally grown angrešt grabbed my attention this summer during my regular visits to Zelný trh.  I noticed small baskets of the red and green fruit at several stands. Thinking they might be similar to grapes, I sampled some and was astonished by the explosion of flavors including both a sweet and tangy tartness that let me know immediately this was no grape.

Although similar in shape and color, angrešt is a berry.  Also known as gooseberries, the species are related to currants (rybíz) and have the complex flavor of a berry.  Native to Europe, the variety and ripeness determine the color and impact the taste. Here in Brno, you are likely to see different varieties of angrešt including red (červená), green (zelený) and yellow (zlutý).

While angrešt was more common several years ago, it continues to be enjoyed in many ways in the Czech Republic.  Of the different varieties I’ve tried, I prefer the flavor of the riper berries that are soft to the touch and yellow in color.

To prepare fresh berries, just trim the stems, wash and enjoy.  Both sweet and tart berries from all varieties have flavors that are well suited for jam, syrup or as a sauce to complement meat.  In addition, angrešt is delicious in pies and other desserts, and whole berries can be preserved during the summer months and eaten as compote all year long.  Try some of these recipes.

Like other berries, angrešt is low in calories and full of nutrients including a healthy dose of vitamins C and A, as well as fiber and antioxidants.  The fruit is eaten whole, so you get the nutritional benefit of eating every part of the berry including the seeds and skin.

I hope you will try this big, colorful berry and let me know how you enjoy it throughout the year.