Strawberry & Gooseberry Jam

Strawberry season is a lovely time of year: warmth and sunshine, long days and summer parties. Sometimes you just wish it could last forever. Of course it can’t, but one way to extend the taste and memories of the season is to make jam.Picture of jam in jars

Jam making is full of traditions and expectations. Many people (perhaps most) hear ‘home made jam’ and think of boiled fruit and glistening jars on the shelf. But in my family we always made ‘no-cook’ freezer jam. We used commercial pectin, it was quick, easy and worked every time. As a bonus, freezer jam requires less sugar than boiled jam, largely because the preserving aspect of the sugar is replaced by freezing.

So when I first moved to the UK, that’s what I did. But I’ve been experimenting with my jam recipes for quite a few years, generally aiming for a fruitier, less sugary taste, sometimes resulting in a sauce rather than a jam. There are several variables to consider with jam. Both pectin and sugar contribute to the ‘set’, with fruits having variable amounts of natural pectin in them. The more pectin, the less sugar needed to achieve a set. Jam from fruits low in pectin benefit from an addition of either commercial pectin or some other fruit which is high in pectin. I don’t use so-called ‘jam sugar’, which has pectin added, mainly because I’d rather make my own additions, in the proportions I see fit. Whereas standard boiled jam takes about twice as much sugar as fruit,  I have settled on about equal quantities for my freezer jams, and I don’t always use commercial pectin.

Strawberries are pretty low in pectin, so this recipe depends on gooseberries for a light set–and I like the slightly more tart taste. If you want a firmer set, use more gooseberries. More gooseberries will also make it less sweet.

Makes 6 average sized jars.

Ingredients:

1 quart Strawberries–ripe or slightly under-ripe
3 cups (Granulated) sugar
1 cup or more Fresh gooseberries
Up to 1/2 cup Runny honey (optional)

Directions:

  1. Thoroughly wash jars or boxes and lids to be used. Sterilize if possible.
  2. Pick over berries and discard any damaged ones. (They might be edible, but don’t put them in the jam.)

    Picture of Strawberry with bruise

    See the bruise? Best to use and eat this one fresh. Don’t preserve damage.

  3. Rinse perfect strawberries and drain.Picture of washed strawberries
  4. Mash strawberries a few at a time; I always leave a few chunks. Measure and move to a large bowl, adding to them until you’ve got 3 cups of mashed berries.
  5. Stir in sugar until moistened. Leave to stand 10 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, remove stems from gooseberries and pierce the skins.
  7. Place in small saucepan with a splash of water. Bring gently to simmer.
  8. Cook gooseberries until they look ‘stewed’. This will only require a few minutes.
  9. Measure out at least one cup of hot gooseberries and add to strawberry/sugar mixture.
  10. Stir for at least 3 minutes, until no sugar crystals remain.

    Picture of fruit/sugar mixture

    Stirring is not quite complete here; there are still sugar crystals catching on the sides of the bowl.

  11. For a flavour variation, add honey now.
  12. Pot up, leaving headroom for freezing.
  13. Leave to stand overnight/24 hours.
  14. Freeze.

This jam will keep for up to 2 years in the freezer. Refrigerate once opened; it will keep up to three weeks. Not that either of those occasions is likely to arise!

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I'm an American living in the UK, combining rural Mid-west ideas about food with a suburban coastal British reality. It's fun!

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Posted in Kitchen Economy, Recipes, Summer
6 comments on “Strawberry & Gooseberry Jam
  1. Gale Wright says:

    Sounds really good! Do you grow your own gooseberries? I never seem to come across them here.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, we do have a bush in the back garden. But gooseberries are also very popular here; several friends grow lots on their allotments, and they are available at pick-your-own farms, as well as in greengrocers. Not sure about supermarkets!
      I first discovered them back in my teens, when random bushes started appearing in our yard, clearly planted by birds. But then that means SOMEBODY must have been growing them somewhere fairly nearby…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Gale Wright says:

        LOL! My birds like to plant honeysuckle bushes! The only time I have ever had or seen gooseberries is in canned fruit cocktail. I didn’t even know what they were as a kid and thought it was grapes in there. It just sounds like a nice balance to the strawberries instead of rhubarb (which I’m not a big fan of). Will have to see if they are available around here.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. ericrynne says:

    Now if only I can find some gooseberries so I can throw some of my favorite Local Honey into it. Looks wonderful. Probably compliments a lot of different dishes.

    Liked by 1 person

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Sharing a lifetime of experience of kitchen challenges. Respecting food and making the most of what's available. Read more on my About page.
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March 2015
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