Gooseberry jam is a great jam for beginners to make. Being naturally high in pectin it is really easy to get a good set.
The finished jam not only keeps well it tastes delicious and I find even those who claim to dislike gooseberries love the jam.
As a youngster I didn't like gooseberry jam probably more because I convinced myself gooseberries were too sour to eat. Oh how things change. Not only do I now think gooseberries are delicious (and although slightly tart, nowhere near as sour as I thought they were as a child) I also think gooseberry jam is delicious!
I like gooseberries so much, that now that I grow my own on my mini allotment and as I have an annual supply I frequently make this jam because as its name suggests it is so easy.
Use Fresh or Frozen goosebrries
Being naturally high in pectin getting the jam to set never seems to be a problem. Another big plus is that it can be made from both fresh and frozen gooseberries. Perfect for when I don't have time to make jam when they are ready to be picked, as I can just pop them in the freezer and make the jam when I have more time.
This is also good news for those who don't grow them or have trouble buying them fresh. I can't remember the last time I saw fresh gooseberries for sale (although I believe they are available at farmers markets and some supermarkets or good greengrocers when they are in season). Frozen gooseberries can be found all year round in larger farm shops and some larger supermarkets.
When are gooseberries in season?
In the UK gooseberries are available from late May through to early September but are at their best and most plentiful from late June to early August.
How to freeze gooseberries?
To freeze gooseberries, first top and tail (pinch out stem and flower bud) Then lay them in a single layer on a tray and freeze until solid. Once frozen they can be packed in polythene bags or freezer containers and will be free-flowing which means you can take out exactly the amount you require.
Gooseberries freeze well and will keep in the freezer for up to 12 months. After that you may find the flavour starts to deteriorate.
I find for most gooseberry recipes can use gooseberries straight from frozen with no need to defrost first. That is certainly the case when making jam.
How long will gooseberry jam keep?
This jam will keep fresh for about 1 year if stored in a cool dark place. Although I have actually found perfectly edible jams older than that at the back of the cupboard. Once opened keep in the refrigerator.
Why is gooseberry jam a different colour to the fruit?
If you are familiar with gooseberry jam you may have wondered why it isn't green when most varieties of gooseberries are. On cooking the jam changes colour and can be anything from a pale golden colour to quite a deep red.
The reason is not completely clear but is almost certainly due to the gooseberries containing pigments called anthocyanins and it is these colour pigments that make fruits like cherries red or blueberries blue. Interestingly, they are known to change colour when in different acidities or when they are heated and breakdown into smaller pieces. You can read more about why the jam is a different colour here .
Whatever the reason in practice you will find the colour of gooseberry jam varies according to which variety of gooseberries you use (obviously red gooseberries will produce a darker coloured jam). The amount of acidity in the fruit and the length of time you cook the fruit and boil the jam. The longer the fruit is cooked the darker it becomes.
You need just 3 ingredients to make this simple gooseberry jam
- Gooseberries - fresh or frozen
- Granulated sugar - I use golden granulated but white granulated sugar is fine. Do not use jam or preserving sugars with added pectin or you will have a jam that sets like a brick.
Some recipes call for lemon juice. I find that gooseberries generally have enough acidity to achieve a good set. Just ripe to slightly under-ripe gooseberries are best for making jam. If your gooseberries are very ripe then add the juice of half a lemon to increase the acidity
Method - step by step
How to test for a set
- Before you start making your jam or preserve, place a couple of plates in the fridge to chill.
- When you are ready to test for set, remove the pan from the heat. Drop a little of the preserve onto a chilled plate and return to the fridge for about 2 minutes. Gently push your finger into the mixture and see if it mounds and wrinkles. If so, the setting point has been reached.
- If not, return the mixture to the boil for few more minutes and retest. Repeat again as necessary until setting point is reached.
See my preserving tips for more jam making hints and tips.
How to sterilise jam jars
- Wash the jars in warm soapy water and rinse well. Do not dry.
- Place the wet jars on a tray, heat the oven to 140℃ (120℃ fan)/275°F /gas 1 and put the jars in the oven to dry completely.
- Sterilise the lids (and rubber rings if using Kilner style jars) in a pan of boiling water for 5 minutes.
I always sterilise one or two more jars than I think I will need, to ensure I have enough.
Poting and sealing the jam
- Skim off and discard any scum that has formed on the jam using a metal draining spoon. Fill the jars while they are still hot.
- Use a wide jam funnel to make filling easier.
- Fill almost to the rim to allow for shrinkage on cooling. Immediately after each jar is filled, cover the top with a waxed disc (wax side down) or piece of parchment so that it lies flat on the surface and excludes any air. This will help to prevent mould forming in storage.
- Then place the lid on the jar while the jam is still hot.
- Alternatively, the jars can be sealed with cellophane secured over the jar with a rubber band. As the preserve cools the cellophane will tighten producing an airtight seal.
More Jam Recipes Made Easy
- Blackcurrant jam
- Quick and easy blackcurrant jelly
- Strawberry jam made easy
- Roasted plum jam
- Peach and pomegranate jam
- Whitecurrant jam
For more Gooseberry recipes check out this collection of great gooseberry recipes from around the net over on my other blog Only Crumbs Remain
Easy Gooseberry Jam
- preserving pan or very large saucepan
- jam funnel (optional)
- sterlised jars and lids
- 1 kg gooseberries
- 250 ml water
- 1 kg granulated sugar
- Top and tail the gooseberries by pinching off the stem and dried flowers from either end of the fruit.
- Place gooseberries and water in a preserving pan or large saucepan. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 10- 15 minutes until the gooseberries are soft and tender.1 kg gooseberries, 250 ml water
- Add the sugar and cook over a low heat stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat and bring to a rolling bowl. Boil for 8 to 10 minutes. Then test for a set.1 kg granulated sugar
- Test for set. If setting point is not reached, continue to boil for another 2 minutes before retesting and repeat if necessary until setting point is reached. If you have a thermometer the mixture should reach 105℃/220°F.
- Pour into sterlised jars. Immediately each jar is filled, cover the top with a waxed disc (wax side down) or piece of parchment so that it lies flat on the surface and excludes any air.
- Then seal while the jam is still hot. As the preserve cools the cellophane will tighten producing and airtight seal.
- Place a couple of saucers into the fridge before starting, ready for testing the jam for setting point or use a thermometer.
- For hints and tips check out How to sterilise jars, test for set, pot and seal jars when making jams and preserves.
- Nutrition information is calculated based on this jam making 4 x 450g (1lb) jars and each serving being 25g (1oz)