Krusbär Statsrådet von Ehrenheim
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 could include 100 different varieties.
Since gooseberry cultivar development carried out by trained professionals has begun in Sweden at around 1880 a few varieties reached the market. The most successful of these were ‘Statsrådet von Ehrenheim’ which was developed at Experimentalfältet experimental field owned by the Academy of agrarian sciences in the northern outskirts of Stockholm. The development of the cultivar seems to have occurred during the 1890’s. The father of this cultivar was Professor Erik Lindgren and he made the cultivar from a seedling.
The fruit is big and oval in its shape. The peel is thin and slightly hairy. The color is light green with shifts in yellow and green-whitish dots. The flesh is full of seeds and yellow-greenish. The flavor is rich and noble.
In the first years of the 20th century the pest called American gooseberry mildew came to Europe and 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 e.g. by putting the plants in the sun and ensuring a good air circulation around them. Also pesticides were developed. The pest also attacked ‘Statsrådet von Ehrenheim’. Another countermeasure against the mildew was the development of resistant cultivars e.g. by crossbreeding of European cultivars with American one’s. After the first successful launch of such cultivars, e.g. ‘Scania’ in the early 1930’s, the older non-resistant cultivars began to be threatened. It is now long since ‘Statsrådet von Ehrenheim’ was available in the plant shop, but plants are still out there in older gardens and in the Swedish genebank.
‘Statsrådet von Ehrenheim’ is considered a perfect gooseberry for eating fresh. Like all gooseberries it could also be used for making jam, juice, chutney, curd and wine. Especially wine-production starting from gooseberries was vivid in Sweden during the second half of the 20th century and up until 1917 when the production was regulated by the state. The development of Statsrådet von Ehrenheim could be seen as one important step in providing even better raw materials for the expanding gooseberry wine industry at the turn of the 20th century, e.g. in the form of Knutstorp sparkling or the wines by Önos in Tollarp.