Adeline Panamaroff joins the Ladiescorner.ca team as a weekly urban food columnist.She has long had a passion for urban food foraging, food preservation and storage.Recently she started writing her own blog with suggestions on what can be foraged within our Edmonton area, with an eye for supplementing a small food budget.You can check it out here: https://www.
Memories of gathering these berry gems while on my dad’s farm involved wearing oversized leather gloves.
While the berry is mild and sweet, the bush it grows on is far thornier than a raspberry, so gathering them is not for the faint of heart.
The low-hanging branches, with the fruit growing on the underside of the stems can make harvesting the desired fruit a challenge.
Without gloves, the only way to get at them, I have found, is to lift the tip of the branch where there are fewer thorns and work your way back to the main trunk of the shrub.
In more natural green spaces, gooseberry bushes can be found amongst the undergrowth of stands of trees, usually near a body of water.
While gooseberries are native to my prairie area, I have found many urban parks populated with these shrubs as landscape features. Being so readily available, it is easy to forage for these urban treats. Once they are dark purple, they are ready to harvest. Utensils
- gloves (optional)
- 2 bowls
- 4 pint canning jars and new lids
- stock pot
- soup pot or canning cauldron
- small sauce pot
- potato masher
- Jar funnel
- kitchen tongs
- jar tongs
- 4 cups gooseberries
- 1 packet of pectin
- 7 cups sugar
- Harvest the berries
- Clean and sort the berries into the 2 bowls. Cleaning is done by taking the dry bloom off the end of each one. Gooseberries are notoriously worm-ridden. If you see one that is misshapen, or has a dry scab on it, there is likely a worm inside. (If you do not mind the extra protein, you can skip the sorting step. Heat sterilizes everything.)
- Wash and drain the fruit in a sieve.
- Place berries in the stock pot and gently crush with a potato masher until they are a juicy mess.
- Add pectin and water.
- Cook on medium/low heat till it comes to a rolling boil, stirring often to prevent scorching at the bottom of the pot.
- While you wait for this to happen, preheat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. As well, half fill your soup pot or canning cauldron with water and set to boil on the stove. Add a clean dish cloth to the bottom of the pot as a barrier between the hot metal bottom and the jars that will be placed into it.
- Wash the canning jars and lids in hot soapy water.
- Once the oven is heated, place the washed jars in the oven for 10 min to sterilize. Keep them in the oven if the jam is not yet ready, but turn off the heat.
- Half fill the small sauce pot with water and bring to a boil. Once the water is at a rolling boil, add the washed canning lids. Boil for 10 min to sterilize.
- Once the fruit has come to a boil, add the sugar and stir it in.
- Bring to a boil again for one min, constantly stirring to avoid scorching at the bottom of the pot.
- Take jars out of the oven and immediately ladle out the jam into them, with the aid of the jar funnel and ladle. Full till an inch from the top.
- Wipe the edges of the jars and a bit inside the rim with a clean wet paper towel, to remove any spilled jam. This will help create a good seal.
- Fish out the sterilized jar lids with the kitchen tongs and screw them tight onto the jars.
- Once the soup pot/canning cauldron is at a rolling boil, place the prepared jars inside, lifting them gently in by their tops with the jar tongs.
- If the water level is not covering the jars once they are all in place, add more water until the lids are submerged.
- Let the water come back to a rolling boil. Let it boil for 10 min.
- Remove jars from the water with the jar tongs and place on a clean kitchen towel.
- Let them rest and cool down for 24 hours.
- The jam has set if when the jar is tilted, the jam does not immediately shift to the top. As well, the jar is sealed if 1) you hear the ping of the lid compressing, and 2) the inner plate holds in place when you hold the jar at the top, without the ring screwed in place. (Remember only to do this test over a surface and only from a couple of mm. height.)
- Label and date the jars and store them until used.
- Enjoy on toast, pancakes, muffins or in baking.
- Jam prepared in this fashion will keep for two years.
This jam can be preserved by methods other than hot water canning, like pressure cooking or freezing. Follow the method that works for you and the space you have for storage.
One of the challenges of making this or any other jam is orchestrating several processes, cooking the fruit, sterilizing things, and getting the hot water bath ready so that it can all be done just as the jam is being boiled for the 2nd time. Note: While it may be financially daunting to get canning supplies like the jars and a canning cauldron, they can be found at used shops like Value Village and Find, or at garage sales for very affordable prices.
Plus, as mentioned above, you can forgo this step and just freeze the jam in empty yogurt containers.Adeline Panamaroff is a freelance writer/proofreader located in Edmonton. Alberta. She has written for local publications such as Edmonton as Museum Project, Edmonton Stitcher, Moshi Moshi, and Embroidery Canada. Finding wonder and joy in the ordinary and then writing about it is where Adeline finds her inspiration. Food, gardening, textile arts, and history are only but a few of the areas she enjoys to write about.Read more from LCCMediahttps://ladiescorner.ca/2020/01/29/lcc-media-with-edmonton-food-bank-125000-people-in-edmonton-are-hungry/