Gooseberry Ginger Jam

My grandmother used to grow gooseberries—so many, in fact, that she sold them wholesale to the local IGA. I love their fantastically tart flavor, sort of like rhubarb in berry form. They’re hard to find in markets, so I’ve planted a bush of my own. But that’s not where these came from.

These gooseberries were foraged. (Some might say stolen.) There’s a neglected gooseberry bush in a public space in my neighborhood. This is the second year that I’ve had my eye on it. I am now convinced that the person who planted it either moved away, died, decided he or she didn’t like gooseberries, or never intended to eat them in the first place. Both years I’ve waited until the berries started falling off the bush, just to make sure that their intended picker had a chance. But in both cases no one has touched them. This year it’s almost been swallowed up by flowers, so I am truly convinced that the fruit is fair game. Even so: if you are reading this blog, and live in West Philly, and believe that you have a claim on these berries, e-mail me at and state your case. If it’s believable I’ll share some jam.gooseberry-jam

So, back to that jam. Gooseberries are closely related to currants and make a lovely, sweet-tart jam. They’re also full of pectin, which means that it sets up nicely. (Some might say too nicely. This jam is, shall we say, firm.) I added a bit of ginger for a little extra somethin’ somethin’, but it would be perfectly fine without. If you can find some gooseberries and can resist the urge to make a pie, try this.

Gooseberry Ginger Jam

(Thanks to Little Slice of Life for inspiration!)

3 cups gooseberries, tipped and tailed (that means removing the little blossoms and the stems)
water to cover the gooseberries
3 cups sugar
4 coins of ginger root

1) Put the gooseberries in your favorite jam-making pot and cover with water. Bring to a gentle simmer. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the ginger coins. Remove from the heat, let cool, and refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours.

2) Remove the ginger coins and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, get your jars and lids ready. Boil it rapidly until it reaches the gelling point, probably about 20 minutes.

3) Transfer to sterilized jars and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Refrigerate any jars that don’t seal.

Note that this time I used a candy thermometer and waited until it reached 228ºF, the traditional gelling point. This resulted in a jam that set slightly too hard for my tastes, but this is a classic set. If you like a softer jam you’re looking for the magic point somewhere between boiling and this, when it gels nicely on a plate. I have learned my lesson and am henceforth reverting to look and feel rather than temperature.

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10 comments to Gooseberry Ginger Jam

  • Ginger sounds like a great addition – I love it’s fiery zing! We’ve got some Ginger Beer brewing at the moment and it certainly packs a punch…. 🙂

  • i planted 3 gooseberry bushes last year and they are doing very nicely. the should be done very soon and i am looking forward to giving gooseberry jam a try too!

  • By the way, I just realised I hadn’t responded to your question about adding butter to the jam. Personally, I never add it but some recipes recommend it as it’s supposed to stop scum forming on top of the jam.

  • […] blog (thanks for the nod sararah!). The Oregonian has a terrific article on preserving cherries and the recipe for gooseberry jam on Doris and Jilly Cooks (made out of gleaned berries) looks wonderful. Subscribe to comments […]

  • […] enough, and it turned out more like a sauce (albeit a delicious one). Then I overcorrected with the gooseberries and ended up with something a bit more gluey (again, quite tasty, but difficult to spread). […]

  • Kate

    Half a cup of finely diced preserved ginger makes this jam extra special. Add the chopped ginger just before the jam reaches gelling point.

  • My parents are European and I grew up eating gooseberries at my godfather’s. I married a man who was born and Germany and he loved them too so now we have about 20 gooseberry bushes of different varieties. They are very hardy and berry like crazy every year. I mix my gooseberries with strawberries or raspberries and even the wild blackberries for really delicious jams! Gooseberry pies are awesome too. Plant you own bushes — they grow fast and bear fruit immediately!

  • Diane

    Hi thanks for the recipe. I found a wild gooseberry bush and will try you recipe, they are red with a leathery and bristley skin i think i may have to sieve the fruit. I will let you know

  • July 20, 2010

    We have the red gooseberries and I am hoping to make jam. I like the idea of ginger, I wonder if powdered spice ginger would work.
    We have trouble with the fruit turning buggy, it takes a good eye to spot, The larvae is left inside. Don’t use fruit that has a small black speck onthe outside or part of the berry is dried up and shriveled.
    Any help to keep the bugs out of our gooseberries?

  • Mary Carlisle

    Thank you for the recipe. I live in South Africa and my first attempt at making Gooseberry jam was a Dentist’s dream. Had anyone eaten it, it would have extracted all your fillings and half your teeth. Will try your way and hope that it is better. Will certainly add the ginger and pray!