Quintessential Summer Flavours

The great plan of nature is that, while English gooseberries are ripe and ready for picking, the elderflower trees (Sambucus Nigra) are in full blossom. For a brief moment each summer, the gooseberry and elderflower seasons overlap. Combined, they taste of rural England: verdant and flowery with a refreshing sweet sourness. The flavours of the two together are superlative. A marriage made in heaven - gooseberries and elderflowers complement each other perfectly - an example of nature at its best. For me, jellies bring out memories of childhood and tea parties. Since I love home-made jellies almost as much as home-made ice creams, I have included this delightfully sophisticated gooseberry and elderflower jelly recipe in the Cookery Studio repertoire. This jelly can vary from a fresh green colour to a delicate champagne-pink depending on the variety of gooseberries being used. My garden variety is the red ‘Whinham’s Industry’.

Gooseberry and Elderflower Jelly       A pretty and delicate summer jelly.

450g gooseberries
150g caster sugar
6-8 fresh elderflower heads (or 30ml elderflower cordial)
350ml Saumur or similar sparkling white wine
11g powdered gelatine or equivalent 5 gelatine leaves

  1. Begin by cleaning, topping and tailing the gooseberries.

  2. Put them in a wide, shallow pan with a lid. (Use a non-reactive pan due to the acid in the gooseberries).

  3. Sprinkle the sugar over the gooseberries, and place over a very gentle heat, cover and let them heat through and soften for 5-6 minutes, stirring them around only a couple of times until the sugar is dissolved.

  4. Add the elderflowers and stir for a couple of minutes (if you're using cordial, hold off with that until later). Remove from the heat and allow to infuse for 20 minutes.

  5. Strain through a jelly bag, or a double layer of muslin and suspend over a large pan, squeezing only slightly to extract the liquor. Add the wine (and the cordial, if using). Taste, add a little more sugar, if necessary, and stir to dissolve.

  6. Soak the powdered gelatine for five to 10 minutes in 2-3 tbsps cold water. While it's soaking, warm the gooseberry liquid until hot but not boiling. (If using leaf gelatine once soaked, drain. Stir it into the gooseberry liquid until dissolved.

  7. Pour into a dishes, cool, cover and refrigerate for at least six hours.

    Serve with a splash of very cold double cream or crème fraiche. Serves 6

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