Home-made Gooseberry Jam is a real treat. It is tangy and fruity and has a good balance of sweet and sour, unlike some shop-bought jams which are too sugary.
I love gooseberries and appreciate their tangy sourness. Green gooseberries are available from early June onwards and can be used to make a range of sweet and savoury dishes, tempered by the right amount of sugar. Red or yellow dessert gooseberries, which can be eaten with no preparation, become available later in the season. My parents used to grow dessert gooseberries and I have happy memories of sitting under a tree in the garden as a child, reading a book – “Doctor Doolittle”, I think – with a big bowl of freshly-picked gooseberries beside me.
Gooseberries have fallen out of favour in recent years and can be hard to source. I grow gooseberries in my garden but, if you don’t have the room or inclination to grow your own, you can find them in some supermarkets or independent greengrocers from early June onwards when they are in season. They are also often available at “pick-your-own” farms. The green culinary gooseberries are generally easier to source than the dessert gooseberries. The season is very short so make the most of it!
Gooseberries lend themselves to a range of sweet dishes – tarts, crumbles, fools and ice-cream and are fantastic in preserves and chutneys. They are also a traditional accompaniment to some savoury dishes and, due to their tartness, go well with fatty meats such as pork or duck or oily fish such as mackerel.
Sweet and tangy home-made gooseberry jam is fantastic on crusty bread or as an ingredient in cakes or puddings.
500 g gooseberries
500 g jam sugar
Juice of half a lemon
Put gooseberries, lemon juice and 200 ml water in a heavy saucepan
Heat gently to simmering point and then cook for around 10 minutes until fruit is soft.
Add the sugar and continue to heat gently until it is dissolved.
Turn up the heat and boil rapidly for a further 10-15 minutes. The jam will change to a dark pink colour as it cooks.
You can judge the setting point by putting a saucer in your freezer before making the jam. Spoon some of the jam onto the cold saucer and leave to cool. If the surface of the jam crinkles when you push it with your finger, it is ready. If not, continue boiling and try again after a few more minutes.
Sterilise your jar.
Pour the jam into sterilised jars. It will keep for about 6 months. Keep in the fridge once opened.
There are various ways of sterilising jars. I think the easiest is to wash in soapy water and then put in an oven at 120 C for 15 minutes.
This Gooseberry and Elderflower Sorbet uses my home-made Muscat Syrup as a base. I make the Muscat Syrup to accompany desserts, such as Elderflower Pannacotta, but often have some left over.
On the basis of “waste not, want not”, I thought I would try making the left over Muscat Syrup into a sorbet and the result was fantastic – a balance of tart and sweet with a lovely gooseberry flavour enhanced by the fragrance of elderflowers. Now I will sometimes make the syrup specifically to create the sorbet!
In order to make the Muscat Syrup into a sorbet, you need to dilute it with some water and add some lemon juice, otherwise it will be too sweet. That is all you need to do to make the syrup into a sorbet – except freezing it, of course.
Put the gooseberries in a saucepan – there is no need to “top and tail” them. Add the sugar and water and cook over a low heat until the gooseberries are soft.
Take the pan off the heat and add the elderflower blooms.
Allow the syrup to cool. The flavour of the elderflower blooms will diffuse into the syrup.
When cool, strain the syrup through a sieve into a jug or bowl.
Method – To make the Muscat Syrup into Gooseberry and Elderflower Sorbet
Dilute the syrup with water – one third water to two thirds syrup.
Add juice of half a lemon.
Transfer the sorbet mixture to the fridge to become thoroughly chilled.
When you are ready to make the sorbet, transfer to your ice-cream maker and use according to your machine’s instructions. If you do not have an ice-cream maker, you can place the mixture in a freezer-proof container, put in the freezer for several hours until half-frozen. Whisk the mixture and then return to the container and replace in the freezer until totally frozen.
Keywords: gooseberry and elderflower sorbet, gooseberry, elderflower, sorbet