We stopped at a fruit stand on the side of the road in Norfolk, and along with the strawberries, tayberries and raspberries, I bought a punnet of large and lovely-looking gooseberries.
Only later did it occur to me that as I was in the middle of my Whole30 diet, and therefore sworn off sugar for a few weeks, it was unlikely I’d be able to eat them any time soon!
I wondered about freezing, but ultimately decided to take the old-fashioned preserving route, and make a preserve. Well, a jam, anyway. That way I could cook them up, then store for a few weeks until my Whole30 was over before tucking in to a gooseberry jam sandwich. Mmmmm.
I always love the combination of gooseberries and gin, but I didn’t want to add any alcohol to the jam, so instead I added citrus peels and juniper berries to give a hint of gin’s botanical flavours. It certainly smelled delicious, and I’ve had good feedback on the taste (can’t wait to taste it myself!). The jam also took on a gorgeous deep pink colour – the gooseberries were a sort of blush colour to start with, but the pinkness intensified on cooking. Lovely.
I always think that jam is much easier to make than you might think. The only tricky bit is testing for the ‘set’ but if you use a frozen saucer it is easy to do. Start testing after about 15 minutes as cooking time may vary depend on how much pectin is in your particular batch of fruit.
I made four small jars of jam from a single large punnet of gooseberries. Can’t wait to dollop it onto some toast and get stuck in!
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- 600g gooseberries
- 5-6 juniper berries
- 2 strips lemon peel
- 2 strips orange peel
- Juice of half a lemon
- 600g caster sugar
- Place a few saucers in the freezer. Wash out 2 large or 4 small jam jars with hot soapy water. Rinse, and leave to dry in a low oven (around 100C).
- Top and tail the gooseberries and wash thoroughly. Place in a large pan with the juniper berries, citrus peels and lemon juice.
- Heat over a medium flame for a few minutes until the fruit softens and the juices begin to run. Add the sugar and stir in.
- Continue to heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce the heat and allow to boil for around 15 minutes.
- Remove a saucer from the freezer. Spoon about a teaspoonful of hot jam onto the saucer and wait for a few seconds. Run your finger through the jam - if it wrinkles, it's done! If the jam is not quite ready, cook for a few minutes more and repeat the 'saucer test' until you're happy that the jam is set.
- Take the pan off the heat and stir to amalgamate any foam from the surface. Allow to cool slightly for a few minutes.
- Remove the jars from the oven and carefully fill with the jam. Screw on the lids and leave the jars to cool - the jam will be extremely hot so it may take a few hours before the jars are fully cooled.
- Wipe any drips from the outside of the jars and label them.
- Enjoy your jam!
If you fancy making more unusually flavoured jams, try these:
Lychee and Rosewater jam, from Kavey at KaveyEats.
Apricot and Vanilla jam, from Choclette at Tin & Thyme.
Rhubarb Anise syrup and frugal jam, from Lindsey at Lancashire Food.
Speculaas spice damson jam, from Steven at Speculaas.co.uk