Scania Gooseberry

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Krusbär 'Scania'

Gooseberry cultivation in Sweden could be tracked back in written records to the late 16th century. However, it is likely rather the earlier on the lack concerns the written sources rather than the gooseberries. There are indications that the origin of gooseberry cultivation was the Scandinavian peninsula and that the culture spread with the Vikings to France and England a thousand years ago. At least during the 18th and 19th centuries the gooseberry bush was the inevitable king of the Swedish home garden when it came to berries and big plantations around 1900 could include 100 different varieties. In the first years of the 20th century the pest called American gooseberry mildew came to Europe and also reached Sweden. It was a disaster for the many plantations. In the short perspective gooseberry growing was rapidly reduced. In the longer run teachings were taught on how to handle the new situation. The mildew could be suppressed by putting the plants in the sun and ensuring a good air circulation around them. Also pesticides were developed. The other track which was also explored was to try to develop resistant cultivars. This was made largely by trying to combine cultivars of the European gooseberry (Ribes grossularia) with cultivars of the American gooseberry (Ribes cynosbati). Seemingly simple it was not since the only quality that was sought for in the American gooseberry was the relative resistance towards the domestic American pest, whereas all other qualities e.g. size, flavor, berry-size, yield were superior among the European gooseberries. Accordingly, a vast trial and error experiment had to be undertaken and one of the scientists to do so was Carl G. Dahl at the state garden in Alnarp outside Lund in southern Sweden. In 1915 he crossbred some unidentified cultivar of European gooseberry with the American gooseberry. Having selected the new plants he found one that fulfilled most of his objectives by being resistant toward the pest, being resilient in general, high-yielding, having a fine aroma and beautifully red berries. The berries were, however, size-wise small with an average weight of 1,2 g/berry. The new cultivar was brought to the market in the early 1930’s and was named ‘Scania’ after the southern-most region in which Alnarp is situated. The peel of the berry is thin and the surface smooth. Young plants give a low yield but starting from five years the plant is truly high-yielding. Although developed in the south of Sweden ‘Scania’ has been particularly popular to grow in the northern part of the country. ‘Scania’ ceased to be sold sometime around 1970 and is today only rarely found in older gardens.

Like all gooseberries ‘Scania’ is good to eat ripe picked directly from the branch or for making jam, juice, chutney or curd. The beautiful red color of Scania makes it particularly good for these purposes. Another use is picked somewhat before complete ripening and water preserved as Vattkrusbär to be used as a savory spice in the cooking all year around.

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Fruit, nuts and fruit preserves

Nominated by:Martin Ragnar