Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Jams and Jellies - or is it Jam and Jerusalem?

The fruits of our labours
Well, it wasn't quite the Women's Institute but there were moments last weekend when I thought I'd passed over into that mythical land of being the perfect wife, mother and pillar of the community. 

But then reality flooded back and I realised it was just a blip on my otherwise blemished reputation.

Willow weaving for the village flower festival, watching friends in the talent show at the Church and dos-a-dos-ing round the marquee on the green. All very Midsomer Murders and, for afficionados of Miranda, such fun! 

And how did we fill the brief pauses between these bucolic activities? By making jam with friends, of course. 

Foraging for Elderflowers, bribing a troupe of small boys to pick more gooseberries and gathering rose petals...bit part in Darling Buds of May, anyone?

Of course, like all these escapades it was worth every moment to have that exciting realisation that the jam has actually set and the jelly is wobbling invitingly.

So, here's the recipe for the Gooseberry & Elderflower Jam. Coming soon... Gooseberry, Elderflower and Rose Jelly. Yum! Can't wait.

Lovers' Knot - made with willow from the river and wild enthusiasm

Gooseberry & elderflower jam
Elderflowers, roses & a Cooking Gorgeous tea-towel

1kg gooseberries
1kg sugar
150ml water
15 elderflower heads
Old jam jars sterilised in the dishwasher and warmed through in the oven (so they don't crack when you add the hot jam)

Jam pan
Sugar thermometer
Small saucer in the freezer
Wax paper discs

Top and tail the gooseberries and cook them gently in 150ml of water in a large heavy bottomed jam pan. Pop the elderflower heads into the top of the pan - carefully shaking any insects off first. Leave the pan simmering gently for 10 or 15 minutes and remove the flower heads. Add the sugar, allowing it to melt softly into the water and then boil vigorously.

A sticky scum (urgh) will form unless you add a little knob of butter before it boils - or you can just skim off the scum with a slotted spoon.

And wait... until it reaches JAM on your thermometer.

At this point it's really easy to get over excited and decide it's done. BUT! Rush not! First, drop a little onto your ice cold saucer. If it forms a discernible skin that you can push gently with your finger then, and only then, is your jam ready for your jars.

If you haven't got a sugar thermometer and you plan to make jam again, then get one! Until then, you'll have to keep doing the saucer check - it will work.

Carefully spoon or pour the jam into your jars and top off with a wax paper disc and seal tightly. Leave to cool and wash off any sticky residue once the jam has set.

It's a snip


  1. How lovely, and thanks for the recipe, I just love home made preserves of any kind, nothing ever compares to them, look forward to more recipes from your kitchen. x

  2. Thanks Susan - the jelly recipe (coming soon) is gorgeous too! With a subtle rose & elderflower flavour that softens the gooseberry tang. And, even better, it has actually set! x

  3. I love to make jams when fruits are in season, they usually come out the best tasting. I made Apricot and Orange jam the other day and it came out so delicious, my family was impressed. love your recipe and photos...i found your blog on Very Good Recipes and i will be back to check out more of your cooking. Thanks!

  4. Thanks Mom, that's lovely to hear - and it's lovely to hear from you. I love homemade seasonal jam - specially when you can leave some for the next season and get a taste of summer in the depths of winter!