It’s been something of a pleasure this summer to start hauling in bumper bundles from the garden, especially when it seemed with the late frosts and recently ridiculous dry spell in the UK that a lot of my fruit and veg is either very behind or given up the ghost entirely.
Not so with the back corner near the shed where I tend to my rhubarb and gooseberry patch. I say ‘tend to’, they don’t need an awful lot of attention and have given me about 5kg of harvest between them since early June. There is something wonderful about being able to nip out into the garden and have fresh produce to take straight into the kitchen, and we are yet to get tired of various tarts, compote and cake variations but even with my best efforts I’ve found myself running out of time to keep up with the growth out there. I would say there is only so much stewed rhubarb I can breakfast on but that’s nonsense because I love it, however the gooseberries are starting to over-ripen now it is well and truly the end of their season.
So after my Killer Gooseberry Chutney experiment, I took off the remaining berries and combined with some more rhubarb for a jam stash.
I have hinnonmaki red gooseberries and plain old unforced rhubarb- which looks a bit like celery but tastes just as good as the pink forced stuff.
Jam or chutney is mildly labour intensive stuff, but it is probably the safest bet to make use of a bumper crop for long term enjoyment and minimal storage issues. I maintain that homegrown fruit makes this jam so much tastier as it is completely fresh and untreated, however there is nothing to stop you from using store bought produce however this is going to cost you significantly more than a couple of posh jars of ready made jam. More advantages to growing your own is having at the bottom of your patch about forty quid’s worth of rhubarb at current Waitrose rates. Adding the rhubarb in this jam has also given me the chance to engage in that great home grower’s tradition of palming off your excess produce on your mates when you run out of time and space to keep it all, so beware real life buddies the tiny jars are on their way out to you!
Boomboom Rhubarb & Gooseberry Jam
Makes just under 2kg of jam
1kg jam sugar, or 1kg golden caster sugar and a decent sugar thermometer
550g rhubarb stalks, roughly chopped
400g fresh goosberries
25g fresh root ginger, grated
Juice and zest of 1 large orange.
You’ll need clean jars and lids and a heavy based saucepan, check out my jamming tips at the end of this post here.
To begin, wash and rinse your jars well and place them in a cold oven before setting the oven to 100 degrees. If you are using caster sugar, stick a saucer or small plate in the freezer.
Take a seat infront of the telly to top and tail your gooseberries, yes, yes I know it takes ages. Sorry about that.
Once that faff is over with rinse your gooseberries and add to your pan along with all other ingredients. The rhubarb will break down entirely during the cooking to give a lovely thick texture to your jam and as a bonus you don’t need to fuss about chopping it too finely because of this.
Stir it all together and set to a high temperature to reach a rolling boil.
If you are using a jam sugar which already includes pectin keep this on to boil for 10 minutes before transferring to the hot jars and sealing.
If you are using normal sugar keep on the boil until you reach 105 degrees on your sugar thermometer. If you don’t mind a runny jam risk, jar this up now or to be doubly sure test the set by dobbing half a teaspoon of the jam on to your now frozen saucer. Leave it for 30 seconds or so to cool then press the dollop gently with your finger- if it has formed a slightly wrinkly surface then you have reached setting and it is good to go.
This jam will keep for months kept air tight in a dark cupboard, then once opened in the fridge for a couple of weeks. I personally like mine on toast but I have it on good authority that this does very well stirred into a bowl of rice pudding. Enjoy!