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Stilts, Gooseberries, And A Spud For All Seasons

Midsummer Gooseberry Curd

This is taken from Marguerite Patten’s excellent Jams, Preserves and Chutneys [1] handbook.

Truth be told, this was actually my first time to make curd of any description and, if success is measured as the rate at which I’ve been spooning the results into my awaiting gob, then this was of the rip-roaring variety. I would say, however, that my inaugural batch of curd didn’t thicken up as much as I thought a curd ought to. The recipe calls for either whole eggs or, if you prefer, you can use egg yolks only (in which case you double the amount of egg-age). I went the whole eggs route on this attempt but am thinking that it would perhaps thicken better with yolks only. However, I’m going to turn this one over to Jenni [2] and request further analysis on the consistency front.

gooseberry curd

You’ll need:
  • 900g sour green gooseberries
  • 300ml water
  • sugar (for amount, see Steps)
  • unsalted butter (for amount, see Steps)
  • eggs (for amount, see Steps)
You’ll also need:
  • A nylon sieve to strain the gooseberry purée.
  • A double boiler or, alternatively, a large basin that can sit over a saucepan of water.
  • Jars and wax discs for sealing up to 1.5kg of curd and a tongs for handling sterilised jars.
The Steps:
  • You’ll need to prepare the jars that you’re going to use for the curd. Turn your oven on to 140C. Wash the jars in hot soapy water, rinse thoroughly, and sterilise, either by boiling in water for 10 minutes and then drying in the oven or just by keeping the jars in the oven for at least 30 minutes before using.
  • Wash the gooseberries but don’t bother removing the tops and tails.
  • Add the gooseberries and water to a large saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the fruit has softened, the berries have burst and the mixture is pulpy (about 15-20 minutes).
  • Strain through a nylon sieve, pushing as much of the mixture through as possible, and measure the resulting volume of gooseberry purée – I managed to get about 1 litre from this amount.
  • The exact quantity of sugar, butter and eggs will depend on the volume of gooseberry purée. For 1 litre of gooseberry purée, I used 750g sugar, 190g unsalted butter and 5 large eggs (or you can use 10 egg yolks instead).
  • Place the purée in the top of a double boiler or in a basin placed over a saucepan on a medium-low heat and containing hot, but not boiling, water. Add the sugar and butter and stir until melted.
  • Whisk the eggs or egg yolks, then whisk in a little of the hot gooseberry mixture to heat the eggs. Then add this mixture slowly back into the gooseberry purée.
  • Cook slowly, allowing the mixture to thicken until it coats the back of a wooden spoon. I probably cooked mine for about 30-40 minutes. It didn’t thicken as much as I expected it to, but I didn’t want to cook it into oblivion either, so I stopped at that point.
  • Pour into hot, sterilised jars, to within 3mm of the tops. Seal with a wax disc and cover with cellophane covers and/or sterilised lids.
  • Once it’s cooled, try some curd on toast or swirled into some yoghurt.
The Variations:
  • Once I have a critical mass of berries from the redcurrant bush in my garden, I think I’m going to try using making curd with them, as they, too, are quite tart and would be yet another alternative to the traditional lemon curd.
The Results:
  • Around 1.5 kg of curd