Gooseberry and Bay Leaf Jam
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  • Portion/Yield:

    Makes 3 300g jars of gooseberry jam
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I love summer, even though as I get older I learn to appreciate each season for it’s own beauty and seasonal gifts from nature. There is still something magical about summer, I associate summer with holidays, freedom and berries.

Gooseberries are intriguing fruits and I did learn though that later on in the season the berries become softer and actually slightly sweeter, however do not be fooled they are still very tart! Gooseberries contain a very low natural count of pectin. That is a good enough reason to use jam sugar that automatically contains pectin. This will help the jam set once cold.

I believe that the best results for jam making is to cook it in small batches, making jam is not necessarily a big drama. It goes fairly quick and before you know it, your lovely green gooseberries turn into a brilliant orange/brown colour, it’s delicious and perfect recipe to savour summer.

I have cooked this jam using fresh gooseberries however it’s just as effective to cook this recipe using frozen gooseberries, the only change I would make is to let the frozen fruits mixed with the sugar defrost over night in the fridge. It starts the process of dissolving the sugar and shorten the cooking time, capturing maximum freshness and of Gooseberry and Bay Leaf Jam

Ingredients & Method

  • 600g gooseberries, cleaned and stalks removed
  • 600g jam sugar
  • 3 fresh bay leaves
  • Juice of one lemon

Wash the gooseberries, leave to drain in a colander for 10 minutes.

Place the gooseberries, sugar and bay leaf  in to a heavy base saucepan, place over medium heat. Gently melt the sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved turn the heat up and bring to a vigorous boil.

Wash the edges of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in hot water; this will prevent the jam from crystallising. Only stir a couple of times the jam while it is boiling, continuous stirring will encourage crystallisation however do not let your jam catch/ burn. Skim any impurities from the surface as it rises.

Boil the jam for about 20- 25 minutes, temperature 104°C – 107°C; this is the ideal setting point for the jam.

When you reach the correct temperature remove the jam from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.

Have your jam jars ready, cleaned and sterilised, as it is important to decant the hot jam as soon as possible.

Cool the jam jars, clean and label them.

Cooks Notes

Crystallisation of Jam: It’s pretty annoying when this happens. Normally it’s only visual once the jam has cooled down completely. I have three simply preventable reasons why crystallisation could happen.

  1. One is if the sugar and fruit start to boil before all the “raw” sugar crystals have dissolved.
  2. Two is once the sugar has dissolved and the jam reached the vigorous boiling stage  you did not wash the edges with a pastry brush dipped in hot water. As the “raw” sugar crystals get stuck to the edge of the pan and falls back in to the boiling syrup,the larger un-dissolved crystals accumulate molecules and this encourages the growth of large crystals know as crystallisation.
  3. Third is that you should not stir boiling jam or sugar syrup for that matter too much. If you continuously stir the boiling syrup it knocks the sugar crystals together and encourages the formation of larger crystals and crystallisation sets in once cooled.

Sterilising the jars: This is one of the most crucial tasks that you should never cut corners . If you not do this properly you might find your jam becomes mouldy and ferments sooner than expected. Preheat the oven to 100°C. Wash the jars in hot soapy water; do not dry them with a tea towel. Place the damp jars and lids on a clean baking tray; try not to touch the jars and lids on the insides. Place them in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes. Let the jars cool slightly before you scoop in the jam.

Other pointers are

  1. Never pour cold liquid in to hot glass jars, you will end up with broken glass
  2. Take extra care when sterilising the jars, as if they are overheated they might explode.