By Tracy MacMaster
Gooseberries are a charmingly old-fashioned fruit. Gooseberry season is brief – pints appear in the market for a few short weeks and then they are gone. To celebrate gooseberries and hold some of their pleasures over to winter, I like to make an annual jar or two of gooseberry jam. Gooseberries contain high levels of the setting agent pectin, so are terrific for inexperienced jam makers. Freezing keeps it simple. Tailing and topping of gooseberries is a meditative task - create your jam on a lazy Sunday morning, coffee in hand.
Medium sized non-reactive pot
2 pint jars with snap lids
Paper towels for wiping the jar rims
2 pints of gooseberries, tails and tops removed
3/4 cup of brown sugar - this can be adjusted to taste, since the jam is being stored in the freezer
2 tablespoons of maple liqueur - optional but delicious – or water
Wash the jars and lids in hot soapy water, and rinse well. Leave to rack dry.
Place topped and tailed gooseberries in a pot over low-medium heat with the brown sugar and maple liqueur, if using, or water. Stir carefully until the gooseberries begin to pop and release their juices, approximately 5 minutes, and then lower the heat until a slow simmer can be maintained. Cook the mixture until it reaches a jam-like consistency, approximately 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
When the jam is thickened to your liking, pour it carefully into the pint jars, leaving a larger than usual space at the head to allow for expansion in the freezer – about 1 inch of headroom. Carefully wipe the rim of the jar with a clean paper towel to remove any drips, and cover with the lid, tightening the screw-top to fingertip tightness. Freeze for up to 6 months. The jam lasts approximately 7-10 days in the refrigerator, and is especially wonderful with fresh biscuits, on whole wheat sourdough toast or mixed with plain Greek yoghurt.