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Green gooseberry jam with elderflower

Pam welcomes the first tiny gooseberries that appear in the month of May, just as the first boughs of elderflower are beginning to show. The berries are picked when no bigger than her little thumbnail, almost as a thinning process, allowing their brothers and sisters to fill out and mature on the bush. But these early green goddesses are full of pectin, sharp and tart, and make a divine jam. The fragrant elderflowers add a flavour which will remind you, when the days are short and dark, that summer will come again.

Method

Top and tail the gooseberries (it's easiest to just do this with a pair of scissors) and put into a preserving pan with 500ml water. Check the elderflower heads for any insects, then place on top of the gooseberries. Cook gently until the berries are soft but still hold their shape. Remove the elderflowers.

Add the sugar. Stir carefully, so as not to break up the fruit, until the sugar has dissolved, then bring to a full rolling boil and boil for 9–10 minutes. Test for setting point.

Remove from the heat, allow to rest for 10 minutes, then pot and seal. Use within 12 months.

Variations

Use this recipe for later-season gooseberries, without the elderflowers. The fruit will be sweeter and the jam will have a soft pink colour.

To make a quick and easy piquant gooseberry sauce to go with mackerel, add a little cider or balsamic vinegar to warmed gooseberry jam (with or without elderflower). Let the flavours mix and mingle before spooning over the barbecued or grilled fish.

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Ingredients

Makes 5-6 x 340g jars:

  • 1kg young gooseberries
  • Around 8 heads of elderflower
  • 1kg granulated sugar

This recipe is taken from...

River Cottage Preserves Handbook

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