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Gooseberry and Elderflower Preserve

Was it a happy accident or nature's clever plan, that while English gooseberries are ripe and ready for picking, the elderflower trees are in full blossom, and that the flavours of the two together are superlative? Now that elderflower is concentrated in a cordial, combining them is so much easier and makes one of the nicest of summer preserves.

 
 
 Gooseberry and Elderflower Preserve

  Makes 3 x 1 lb (350 ml capacity) jars

Ingredients
 2 lb (900 g) gooseberries
 4 tablespoons elderflower cordial
 a trace of butter
 2 lb (900 g) granulated sugar
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Equipment
You will also need a large heavy-based saucepan, 3 x 1 lb (450 g) jam jars, sterilised, and 3-4 tea-plates chilled in the fridge (for testing).

This recipe is taken from Delia Smith's Summer Collection

Method

First of all take the large, heavy saucepan and smear the base with a butter paper as this will help prevent the preserve sticking at a high temperature. Then top and tail the gooseberries into the pan and add 5fl oz (150 ml) water. Next bring up to simmering point and simmer very gently until the fruit is tender – this will take about 15 minutes.

After that add the sugar and stir well, then, keeping the heat low, wait for the sugar to dissolve completely (about 15 minutes), testing the liquid with a wooden spoon to make sure that there are no little granules of sugar left. Now turn the heat up to its very highest setting and let the preserve boil rapidly for 8 minutes, then take it off the heat to test for a set.

Spoon a little of the preserve on to one of the cold saucers from the fridge, and let it cool back in the fridge. You can tell – when it has cooled – if you have a 'set' by pushing the mixture with your little finger: if it has a really crinkly skin, it is set. If it is not set, boil for 5 more minutes and repeat until the preserve is set.

When set, stir in the elderflower cordial and allow it to settle for 15 minutes before pouring it into warmed sterilised jars. Seal with waxed discs, put the lids on and label when cold.

 

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