An Old Cottage Garden and Pink Gooseberry & Elderflower Jam Recipe


An Old Cottage Garden and a Pink Gooseberry & Elderflower Jam Recipe


Ebchester Bridge

Ebchester Bridge

Memories can be fickle, the good times are nearly always better and the bad times sometimes fade, hopefully, but I do think that memories of my time spent with grandparents are an accurate recall of precious moments that I enjoyed with them. I remember happy times picking raspberries in my paternal grandfather’s garden in Middlesex…..he had numerous raspberry canes, all lined up in orderly rows at the bottom of his garden. A fascinating garden “potting” shed was the centre of my first jam making sessions – where my grandfather would allow me to mash a few raspberries in a plant pot and call it jam! My grandmother on the other hand, was making the real jam indoors, where there were jars and jars of preserves and pickles to be found in the “glory hole” next the kitchen and under the stairs.


Old Fashioned Raspberry Jam

 

“Up North”, as they say, in Northumberland and County Durham, the garden was just as fascinating, but instead of raspberries, it was all about rhubarb and gooseberries at my maternal grandparents house. The house was in fact an old stone cottage, with only two bedrooms in the attic and the loo being a “thunder box” outside in an old privy style shed. There was no water to the house, but as the cottage sat beside a burn (a brook), the water was collected and stored in large tubs and barrels……..clear, fresh and soft, my grandparents also collected train water too, and never has my hair been as soft and shiny as it was when I washed my hair using rain water. Towards the end of the garden, just over the burn, were granddad’s gooseberries bushes, it seemed like several hundred of them, although I’m sure there weren’t that many!


Gooseberry Bushes

The “goosegogs” provided my retired grandparents with a little extra income every year, pin-money, as my grandfather would pick them and walk up the road to sell them from buckets. Gooseberry jam was a regular appearance on the breakfast and tea time table, and it is still my favourite jam, even now. The pretty pink jam also made its way into fools, cakes and steamed puddings, and my fondest memories are of gooseberry crumble with lashings of creamy custard – the milk being left everyday in billy cans by a local farmer – thick, unpasteurised and creamy, it made thick and silky custard, as well as decadent rice puddings and porridge. My grandparents gooseberries were tart and green, with vicious thorns that protected the fruit from being easily harvested – but the gooseberry bushes in my garden in France, are the rosy red kind, also called Dessert Gooseberries, and are so sweet that they can be eaten raw.


Pink Gooseberries

It’s a happy coincidence that elderflowers are often out when gooseberries come into season, and so the classic combination of gooseberry and elderflower is often seen in old cookbooks, as well as in modern-day shops and restaurants. Not wanting to be “spoon fed” by current trends, but wanting to try out this classic combo, I decided to create a new jam recipe for Pink Gooseberry and Elderflower Jam…..but instead of using fresh elderflower heads, I turned to a bottle of elderflower cordial, and used that in place of some of the water needed to cook the gooseberries before “jamming”. The recipe for my deliciously pink jam is shared below, and to date we have enjoyed it spread, liberally, on toast, croissants, crumpets and muffins…….and, I am thinking of making a Victoria Sponge cake and using it to spread in the middle of the cakes, in place of raspberry jam.


Pink Gooseberry and Elderflower Jam

However I enjoy my recently made jam booty, whether it be on toast or in cakes, I shall be raising a delicate bone-china tea-cup (or a mug!) to my grandparents, who introduced me to fruit and preserves, as well as nature……I will never forget the warm, cosy days of “amateur” jam making in potting sheds, and making jam butties with warm, home-made bread at the tea time table – such small and inexpensive pleasures they may be, but what they lacked in sophistication was more than made up in precious memories and carefree, happy times, to cherish forever. That old cottage garden lives on in my memories still……..do enjoy the recipe if you make it, it’s based on my grandmother’s old recipe, and if you cannot source pink gooseberries, then just use green ones, you will still get a delicate pink coloured jam! Karen 


Burnside Cottage in the snow, Newlands, Near Ebchester, Co Durham

My grandparent’s cottage in the snow, Newlands, Near Ebchester, Co Durham


Pink Gooseberry and Elderflower Jam

 

Pink Gooseberry and Elderflower Jam

This beautiful rosy red jam is made with pink gooseberries and elderflower cordial; it is fabulous when served on toast, croissants, muffins and crumpets and is also the perfect jam to add to baking and cakes. You can also add a dollop to your morning pot of yoghurt.

Ingredients

  • 1kg pink gooseberries (2 1/4 lbs)
  • 300ml water (1/2 pint)
  • 150ml elderflower cordial (1/4 pint)
  • 1.3kg sugar (2lbs 12ozs)

Note

This beautiful rosy red jam is made with pink gooseberries and elderflower cordial; it is fabulous when served on toast, croissants, muffins and crumpets and is also the perfect jam to add to baking and cakes. You can also add a dollop to your morning pot of yoghurt.

NB: Testing for set notes taken from First Preserves by Vivien Lloyd

Directions

Step 1 Top and tail the gooseberries and place them in a preserving pan with the water and elderflower cordial. Bring them to the boil and then turn down the heat and simmer gently for about 10 to 15 minutes, until the gooseberries are soft and have broken down.
Step 2 Meanwhile, warm the sugar in a low oven.
Step 3 Remove the sugar from the oven and place the clean jam jars in the oven to warm – you can now turn the oven off. Leave the jam jars in the oven until needed.
Step 4 Add the sugar to the gooseberries in the preserving pan and stir until dissolved. Bring the jam to a rapid rolling boil and boil hard until setting point has been reached.
Step 5 Test for a set after 5 minutes, using the flake test, a cold saucer or the thermometer. Remove the pan from heat once setting point has been reached and allow to stand for a few minutes. Remove any scum from the surface with a metal spoon.
Step 6 Gently stir the jam and pour or spoon through a funnel into the warm jam jars, filling the jam up to the brim of the jars. Seal the jars immediately with clean screw top lids, or with waxed discs and cellophane covers held in place with an elastic band.
Step 7 Setting points: Flake test – dip a large spoon into the pan of jam and scoop out a spoonful – hold the spoon horizontally over the pan of jam and allow the jam to drip……setting point has been reached when the jam forms a long drip, like webbed feet, and hangs without dropping from the spoon.
Cold saucer test – place two or three saucers into the freezer; spoon a spoonful of jam onto the cold saucer, and push it with your finger – setting point has been reached when the jam wrinkles and sets.
Temperature test – use a sugar thermometer and place the thermometer into a jug of boiling water just before testing for a set; lower the thermometer into the jam and setting point has been reached when the reading is 104.5C (220F).


Pink Gooseberry and Elderflower Jam


Pink Gooseberry and Elderflower Jam


Haugh Woods near Ebchester

Haugh Woods near Ebchester

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