Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Gooseberry Jam!

I've been going on on Twitter about our gooseberry harvest this year and my attempts at making jam. Some people have asked for instructions, so this is how I did it! These pictures are from my second attempt - the first had been the day before and I learned a few lessons from it.

Step 1: Gather your gooseberries

Step 2: top and tail the fruit - it's easiest to use scissors!

Step 3: wash well under running water

Step 4: weigh. In my case, remove and eat excess so there's an even 1kg left!

Step 5: The normal rules of jam-making with soft fruit is to use at least the same weight of sugar as fruit (1kg - 1.2kg sugar to 1kg of fruit). I discovered the night before that these gooseberries are sweet and ripe enough, and the jam came out too sweet and sickly, so I reduced the amount of sugar to 800g. Also, I like the smokey flavour of unrefined sugar so I used 50/50 white and demarara.

Step 5: Measure 80% in litres of cold water of the weight in kilos of fruit - in this case 800ml.

Step 6: Put fruit and cold water into a heavy saucepan, and bring to boil. Also turn on your oven, on its hottest setting.

Step 7. While that's happening (about 2 mins) start washing enough jars with lids to take 150% of the weight of raw fruit (in my case, 1.5kg) in the hottest soapy water you can muster, in a clean bowl. Leave to soak.

Step 8. As soon as mixture starts boiling, bring down to a slow simmer and keep stirring until the fruit starts falling apart (another couple of minutes)

Step 9. Check all fruit has softened, and then add sugar while slowly stirring - preferably with a wooden spoon (and it's still barely simmering)....

... Continue stirring until you can feel absolutely absolutely all the sugar has dissolved (a minute or so).

Step 10. When all the sugar has dissolved (and not a moment sooner) bring the mixture to a rapid full boil, as hot as possible. When it starts boiling, set a timer for fifteen minutes.

Step 11. While the mixture is boiling, complete washing the jars and lids as scrupulously as possible and rinse out in the hottest water you can manage (in my case, straight from the kettle)

Step 12. Do not wipe the jars, but shake off excess water, switch off your (hot) oven (you DID switch it on earlier, didn't you?) and put your jars and lids inside upside down to dry out and keep warm.

Step 13. Cookery books and jam-making recipes make a big deal about temperature. And it's true, the mixture should boil at over 100-110°C but you should be OK by keeping it rolling for 15 minutes. Also, there are things like the wrinkle test to ensure it's ready, but I've not bothered during my past jam-making experiments and I've been OK.

Step 14. If desired, seive the boiling mixture into another clean saucepan if you want clear jam/jelly with no "bits". I'm going to make one 300g of clear jam and leave the rest with the bits...

... Return the seived clear liquid to the boil for another minute or two. Remove any scum that forms from the top of both saucepans before...

Step 15. ... pouring it into jars. Fill jars to the very brim so that there is no air in there to create condensation - condensation causes mould!

The clear/bitless jar is at the back on the left. I couldn't take any pictures of the bottling process as I only have two hands and it needs to be done quickly! Do not be surprised if the jam isn't very thick straight away, it might even need several hours after it's completely cold!

If I had any expectation that my jam would be standing around for any length of time I'd do the right thing and seal them with a waxed circle and a cellophane membrane before putting on the lids, but I fully expect none of my jam to be standing around for more than a couple of months - it will be fine in a fridge for that long! (I have now found homes for all but one of the jars!)

Last but not least, I didn't take a picture, but put a label on your jars listing the contents and date of production (for stock rotation purposes).

I hope this has been helpful - please let me know if you've tried this recipe and whether or not it worked!

Wednesday, 7 July 2010


I love the word chrzan - it's Polish for horseradish. I leave you, dear reader, to take a guess at pronunciation!

We have loads of horseradish growing wild in our garden so while cleaning up today I dug up a small fraction of the mature roots to make some horesradish sauce/paste. Here's some photos from the process!

freshly dug-up roots in the middle of the lawn.

Discarded leaves

1.1kg of roots after they'd been cleaned of soil and given a scrub

Looking better: washed, peeled and roughly diced

First blitzing in small doses. Only additions: 1 glass boiling water, half glass white malt vinegar and half glass white wine vinegar, one tablespoon salt, one tablespoon sugar

The effect of the fumes on my poor eyes!

1.4kg of finished paste after second blitzing (Yes, I DID recalibrate the scales!)

Shops sell horseradish in little 50g jars like the one in front. How long will my 2 x 600g gherkin jars last, I wonder? (the two smaller ones are going to my sisters) Honest proposition: would anyone within travelling distance like some for free? Otherwise it's likely to go to waste, and I'm guaranteed at least a similar harvest in November, and again in the spring!