This was the first year we’ve taken the gooseberries that we’ve been growing on the property and turned them into what turned out to be an awesome jam. In years past, we either lost a majority of the berries to opportunistic birds, or ate them all before we could actually jam with them. But, this year, we made sure that we froze enough berries to get a good batch of jam.
Here are the basic ingredients that we used, you could definitely scale them back using the same ratios as not many people likely have 10lbs of gooseberries at their disposal.
10 lbs. Gooseberries (we were using frozen berries that we’d picked the previous summer)
4 lbs. Granulated Sugar
1 Lemon Juiced and Zested
That’s it! We are not huge fans of pectin, so we really aim to make all of our jams or preserves without pectin or gelatin of any sort. We also tend to use a lower ratio of sugar to fruit than many other recipes you can find out there. Which is great from a dietary perspective, but also means that the flavor of the berries or fruit is able to come through a bit more. One of the keys to jamming is to make sure you are sterilizing and cleaning everything that you are going to use, particularly during the jarring process. You can find out all sorts of tips on ensuring your jars and lids are clean and about proper canning or jarring procedures online.
Basic instructions are as follow:
1. Combine lemon juice, berries in a tall pot. The berries will cook down quite a bit, but don’t overload the pot as the jam is going to get hot and may have bubbles that cause a mess if you’re right at the rim. We let this cook down until your fruit breaks down and looks like it is mostly liquid.
2. We then add half the sugar (2 lbs). We then use a mill to try and get out the majority of any remaining stems or thicker skin from the berries. It’s usually best to mill right over the cook pot, and discard the large particulates that remain in the mill. We’ve been composting these bits.
3. After you mill and feel like you’ve removed the majority of the unwanted solids, then you can add the remaining sugar (2 lbs) and the zest.
4. This is the part that takes a while, you just have to let it cook and bring the temperature up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. You can use a candy thermometer to keep track of the temperature. We actually don’t rely entirely on the thermometer to let us know when the jam is done and will set properly. We’ve found, at least for us, that the best way to test is to use the spoon trick. After dipping a metal spoon into the jam, if it drops off the spoon in sheets – rather than individual drops – then the jam is ready to go.
5. Use a funnel to put the jam into jars. Clean the rims and sides of any jam and then seal the jars and store. We use a water bath to ensure we get a good seal on our jars. Any leftover jam that didn’t fill a jar we put right in the refrigerator for a our personal consumption. The 10 lbs. of gooseberries gave us a final yield of 76 oz. of finished jam. There should be enough for us to share with guests, use in presentations or cheese displays, and give away to friends and family as a gift for the rest of the year.