Red gooseberries are super beautiful: a lovely fuschia red, like a grape, but with very attractive pin stripes running down the length of the berry. They’re not very popular where I live, so, when I spotted a basket in a shop on our way out of Quebec City last week, I just had to grab them.
Gooseberries always remind me of my Mum. The first time I ever saw a gooseberry bush was on a family holiday in England. She loved to point out anything that was authentically British to remind us of her roots.
Homemade jam is SOOOO good! When we were young, we only ever ate homemade jam. I do not recall eating store bought jam until I was a teenager. Lucky me!! My Mum mostly made raspberry jam from the raspberry bushes that we grew in the backyard. My sister and I would help pick them. Dad would tie Skippy peanut butter tins around our waist with twine and off we would go to pick berries. After they were all picked and washed up, Mum would make loads of raspberry jam. She made one large jar for each of the kids and one large jar for her and my dad to share. After we had finished our individual jar of jam, there wouldn’t be anymore until the following summer.
My Dad grew up on a farm, so growing a couple dozen raspberry bushes, picking the berries and making them into jam, was second nature to him. My Mum, on the other hand, grew up in a city. Her mom died when she was only 2 years old, so she grew up with housekeepers throughout the school year and in the summer was shuttled off to various Aunties’ houses in the country. Farming or jam making was not in her blood. But she did it without complaining, because it made us all happy. She did love cooking and making preserves, so I know there was a part of her that loved doing it.
This Red Gooseberry Elderflower Jam is super easy to make. There is so much natural pectin in the gooseberries that you do not need to add any extra. All you need for this recipe is fruit, water, sugar and the optional liqueur if you want a boost in flavour.
I love the smell of homemade jam in the kitchen: fruity, sugary, warm and steamy. There is nothing better than homemade jam spread on fresh baguette. Yum!
Red Gooseberry Elderflower Jam
- 250 grams red gooseberries
- 100 mL water
- 250 grams sugar
- 2 Tbsp Elderflower Liqueur
Prepare jars. Wash jars in warm soapy water. Rinse thoroughly. If you are going to be eating the jam straight away, then washing in soapy water and rinsing is fine. If you plan on storing the jam in the cupboard for a few months, then you will have to sterilize the jars. Here are good step-by-step instructions for sterilising jars. https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/how-sterilise-jars
Top and tail the gooseberries. This is done by removing the stem and the very tiny end, if it's a bit nubby.
Add red gooseberries and water to pan.
Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to let the fruit simmer for about 10-15 minutes, until the gooseberries become very soft and pulpy.
Add sugar and on a low heat, stir the mixture until the sugar is all dissolved. Do not boil.
Add the liqueur. Bring to a hard boil for about 5 minutes.
To check if the jam has set, pour some in a small dish and place in the freezer. After one minute or so, remove dish, if there is a skin on top of the jam, it is ready. If not, continue this method of cooking, and testing in a small dish in the freezer, until you see a light skin on top of the jam. This shows that the jam will set nicely when cold.
Pour the jam into the jars.