I spotted them at the Snohomish Farmer's Market on Thursday. They were red, stripey, and intriguing.
"Gooseberries," he replied. "They're great - try one!"
I was too much of a weenie to try one then and there, but I was sold nonetheless. I bought a pint, along with blackcurrants (also new to me) and blueberries (how could I not?)
I'm not a total chicken - I tasted a few when I got home. Where I could screw up my face in pure torment in private, if necessary. Instead, of course, they were lovely. Unlike any other berry I've had, these red, ripe guys had a slightly sour skin that yielded to a wonderfully sweet interior somewhat like a plum in texture. They have itsy bitsy seeds inside - I was distracted by them at first, but before long I decided the seeds add to their charm.
A flat of raspberries was waiting for me, too - and so, clearly, the only respectable thing to do was to make jam. Lots and lots of jam.
I started with blackcurrant jam - wonderfully deep purple. Old-fashioned raspberry jam - always a winner. And gooseberry-blueberry jam. Home run.
Tart-sweet blueberries, as it turns out, are the perfect complement to gooseberries. Together, they make a sweet, flavorful and simply stunning magenta jam that'll knock your Crocs off. And because gooseberries are naturally high in pectin, you can leave your box of the stuff in the cupboard. It thickens up beautifully on its own.Here's the recipe!
Makes about 2 1/2 cups of jam
- 1 pint (2 cups) red gooseberries
- 1 pint (2 cups) blueberries
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
- Pick through and rinse gooseberries and blueberries, removing stems and leaves and discarding any bad berries.
- Add the lemon juice and water to a medium saucepan.
- Over medium heat, slowly add the sugar to the lemon and water, whisking as you go, until the sugar-water mixture is smooth. If necessary, you can add a bit more water.
- Heat on medium until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Just don't keep heating it, because you'll end up with caramel - in this case, not good! And yes, I've done it.
- Add the gooseberries, and cook (keeping the heat at medium) for about 3 minutes.
- Stir in the blueberries (and the nutmeg, if using).
- Bring the mixture to a boil, and allow to boil for about 5 - 10 minutes until thickened.
Tip: How do you tell it's the right consistency? Do the spoon text. Dip a cold metal spoon into the mixture, and pull it out sideways. If the mixture drips off in one stream, it's not ready. When the mixture drips off in two drips, it's close. Then the two drips begin to form a sheet, it's ready! Keep in mind it'll keep thickening up after it cools.
- Allow to cool a bit, then pour into jars and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes (thorough instructions here from the Virginia Cooperative Extension). Or if you want to eat it right away, it should keep in the fridge for about a month.