Gooseberries in Syrup

gooseberries, topping & tailing

Before you eat or cook a gooseberry, you must top and tail it–that is, pull off the stem and the shriveled, dry blossom. These are my first harvest of ‘Hinnomaki’, a Finnish variety. They’re not only prettier than my green gooseberries (‘Oregon Champion’, a nineteenth-century variety from Salem, Oregon); they’re also sweeter.

Because I’d never done it before, I decided to can the gooseberries in syrup. For a cup of fruit, I used 1/3 cup each sugar and water. That’s a heavy syrup, but not as heavy as recommended by the old preserving book I consulted. Using a blanching basket, I dipped the berries into boiling water for 30 seconds, following a modern, USDA recommendation, apparently intended to keep the berries from floating. I then drained the berries, rinsed them in cold water, and drained them again. Then I poured about a quarter-cup syrup into a half-pint jar, as the old manual instructed–again, to keep the berries from floating. I added the berries, poured the rest of the syrup over (leaving 1/2 inch headspace), and processed the jar in a boiling-water bath for 15 minutes.

Despite my precautions, the gooseberries are floating in their syrup. They might not win a prize at the county fair, but they’re beautiful anyway. They should be delicious next winter, over ice cream, cheesecake, pound cake, or waffles.

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