First up, of course, I made sure of some good old Gooseberry Jam. Certain to set, this jam is problem free. I just had to top and tail the fruit . . . actually, I don't mind this job. I can vividly remember being given a small pair of scissors, a colander and a big basket of gooseberries from our garden when I was a very little girl. If the term 'hyperactive' had been known when I was young it would have been used to describe me! I was given these sorts of jobs to help satisfy my endless quest to be doing something - I didn't mind what it was as long as it was activity. Those of you who know will say that I am still the same today! I was thinking of these times when snipping the ends from these gooseberries. As I snipped I sorted them into sizes keeping the smallest for jelly making - no need to top and tail them!
Turn up the heat and then simmer slowly until the fruit is cooked and the mixture has thickened slightly (around 20 minutes ) Pot up into warm, sterilised jars and stash away ready for that Boxing Day feast of cold cuts and cheeses - if you can wait that long.
The Gooseberry and Elderflower is the same in terms of the gooseberries but I replaced about 20% of the sugar with Elderflower Cordial (made a couple of weeks ago ) It is a delicate flowery flavour but delicious on the first toasted crumpets of the Autumn. You don't need to make much, but well worth bothering with a few small jars.
I wanted to bottle some of the choice fruit but didn't want just cooked gooseberries - I ended up making Gooseberry & Vanilla Pie Filling and packing it into the sturdy 500ml Le Parfait Clip Top jars. It looks amazing and I can't wait to try it out in a pie or, even better in my book, a crumble. This recipe is using 1.5 kgs or 3lbs prepared fruit.
I started by rinsing the fruit and packing it into the washed jars - it is best to prick each fruit to stop them collapsing when cooked. Its a bit painstaking but I found if I used my small sharp knife to spear each fruit out of the colander to transfer it to the jar - makes the job less tedious. The rubber seals from the jars should be put into a heatproof jug and pour over boiling water.
In a big pan put 454g/1lb soft brown or demerara sugar, 110g/3.5oz cornflour, 1 tsp salt and a vanilla pod and stir together to mix. Gradually add 1.5 litres/36fl oz cold water and stir until smooth. Gradually heat up to the boil, stirring continuously. Once thickened pour over the fruit in the jar. Tap the jars gently on the work surface to remove air bubbles or run a knife around the jar sides if this is easier. Tuck a couple of halves of vanilla pod down the sides of each jar, and leave a gap of about 3 cms at the top and replace the rubber seals to the lids.
Clip the jars down and place in a pan on a cloth, covering the jars with cold water. Turn on the heat, bring to the boil, and maintain a simmer for 20 minutes. Lift the jars out with jar tongs and leave to cool overnight. Next day, release the clips to make sure the seals are sealed properly.
You can now squirrel the jars away all ready for some Winter crumbles. ( I liked the look of this so much I made a second batch. )
There are two shapes - oblong or round - and I have found that the small 110g/3.5oz jars look great in the round - you can fit nine round the outside - with an extra one popped in the middle.
Great value, great style.