Here at Casa Montes Negros in the Axarquia region of Malaga, we are lucky enough to be able to grow fruit and vegetables throughout the year with our temperate climate. One of my favourite berries seeds itself everywhere in my vegetable beds and continues to produce throughout the winter. It has many names – Cape Gooseberry, Physalis, Chinese Lantern and Ground Cherry are the most common. With its tart flavour and bright orange colour encased in a delicate husk it is both pretty and tasty. Perfect for making jam ( no need to add pectin ) as well as fruit tarts, or you can make a mean salsa with it instead of using tomatoes. It also looks and tastes great in salads.
We like to add a little chili to the jam for an extra kick, delicious eaten with cheese.
Cape Gooseberry and Chili Jam
Makes about 4 jars of 300ml each
1 kilo cape gooseberries, husked and washed
NB I freeze them as I harvest them until I have enough to make jam
1/2 kilo sugar
Chilis to taste, chopped
Place the cape gooseberries in a large heavy bottomed saucepan and put on a low heat. The berries will begin to release water as they heat up. Keep an eye on them to make sure the heat is low enough and they don’t burn. After about 20 minutes they should be soft. At this point you can either whizz them with a hand blender or leave them whole if you prefer your jam with whole fruit in.
Now you can add the chopped chilies if using, don’t add them before whizzing the berries as you will lose the bright red colour of the chilis.
Add the sugar, keeping the heat low and stir until it is completely dissolved. It is important that the sugar dissolves completely otherwise the jam will crystallise quickly and won’t keep well.
Once the sugar has dissolved turn the heat up full and stir frequently to prevent the jam from sticking on the bottom of the pan and burning.
Meanwhile wash the glass jars and lids in hot soapy water. Drain but do not dry. Pop a couple of saucers into the freezer for testing the setting point of your jam.
The jam will quickly reach a rolling boil, keep stirring and after about 10 minutes test it for setting by putting a drop on the frozen saucer and placing it in the fridge. Leave it for about 5 minutes before checking if there is a skin on top of the drop of jam. If there is no skin the jam hasn’t set so keep boiling and stirring until your test drop on the saucer forms a skin on top.
At this point you can pour the jam into the jars, sealing with the lid immediately. The jam looks beautiful, and will keep for at least a year.
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