I’m going to start by coming clean – I absolutely love gooseberries. Every summer I get excited about seeing them on the supermarket shelves and can’t wait to grab the small crop from my local pick your own.
But it appears that I’m alone in my devotion to the prickly berry from even pricklier bushes. It’s true that they can’t be eaten raw and require some level of cooking. But the process doesn’t have to be complicated, and the reward is more than worth it.
With just a little sugar and half an hour of your time, the tart gooseberry develops a floral, nostalgic flavour that can’t be found elsewhere. They make a beautiful amethyst coloured jam that is delicious atop a plain scone. There’s something about their flavour and aroma that conjures up notions of Victorian ladies in white cotton gloves, gossiping about the comings and goings of Ms Simmons over a cream tea. Indeed, we have been eating them since at least the medieval era.
I picked up my first box of gooseberries yesterday, just in time to pair them with another old-fashioned favourite, elderflower. So before you decide that enough is enough of this gooseberry nonsense, try this quick and simple recipe for fridge jam. If you try it and you’re still not convinced, I’ll take my gooseberry crusade elsewhere.
Gooseberry and Elderflower Spoon Jam
300g of green gooseberries
40ml of boiled water
35g of caster sugar
One head of elderflower – freshly picked and checked for crawlies
Top and tail the gooseberries with a sharp knife. Place in a saucepan with the hot water and sugar. Stir well and put on a low heat.
Hold the elderflower head over the pan and snip off the tiny flowers with a pair of scissors. Simmer gently for around 20 -30 minutes until the gooseberries have burst and the mixture is starting to thicken slightly.
Place the fridge jam into an airtight container and leave to cool. The low level of sugar means that it will not keep in the same way as regular jam, so it must be kept in the fridge and consumed within the week – hence the name.
Put a spoonful on top of a fresh scone, dollop it on natural yoghurt for a virtuous breakfast, or swirl through whipped cream and make gooseberry fool.
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