Gooseberry Cheese – Elegant, Delicious And Surprisingly Thrifty
Living The Fine Life Frugally
Gooseberry cheese. It’s like membrillo – that pricey quince paste you see in fancy delis and supermarket special selections – but made of gooseberries. Why would you want some? Come on – if it’s good enough for Fortnum & Mason then it must be the least any frugalista deserves with her cheese and (value range) crackers. Besides, it’s tart, perfumed flavour is divine with a budget supermarket chevre dahling! I have a bit of a thing about deli food. And a strong suspicion that deli food is much cheaper to make than to buy. So today I cut out the many middle men that lie between me and my gooseberry cheese and made myself a few jars for only slightly more than the cost of one F&M jar. Tartan Mum loves a thrifty luxury.
Making a fruit cheese is much easier than making jam: there is no need to reach set point for a start. The only equipment you need is a big pot, a sieve and a wooden spoon. You also need containers but they don’t even have to be jars. How simple is that? The key ingredient is time – time to stand pushing gooseberry pulp through a sieve and time to stand stirring a bubbling pot until it reaches the right consistency. Or, as I like to think of it, time when all I can do is listen to the radio and I am not available to play with lego or catch up with housework.
Here’s how to get yourself some upmarket deliciousness at a street market price.
Gooseberry Cheese Recipe
Gooseberries (surprise!), about 1.4kg. Try pick-your-own farms for these if you don’t have a free supply.
Granulated sugar – the amount will depend on how much pulp your berries produce
You need a high-sided pan, a nylon sieve (although a regular metal one will do if it has small holes) and a wooden spoon. A preserving funnel will help you to avoid burnt fingers and messy dribbles when potting the preserve up but so will a big jug if you have one.
You will need containers. You can spoon your cheese from a jar but, ideally you want to mould your cheese so you can turn it out like a tiny jelly and put it on your cheeseboard. Your ideal container is a lidded jar with straight sides and no neck – easy to seal and easy to unmould. If your jars have lost their lids you can use waxed disks and cello covers instead. You can also use any teacup, ramekin or other container without a narrow neck but you will need to brush the inside with glycerine or flavourless vegetable oil. (e.g. sunflower) and seal the top with food grade paraffin wax. For really pretty fruit cheese you can use a bunch of cheap mini-jelly moulds like these with lids at both ends (for easy out-popping). I keep cheese made in jelly moulds in the fridge rather than the cupboard because I don’t entirely trust the seal on them – although, if it is secure enough to hold dissolved jelly, it must be a pretty good seal. Perhaps this year I should experiment…
Wash your containers in warm, soapy water and then dry them thoroughly with a clean dish towel. If you are using teacups, etc, brush them with oil now. Put jars, ramekins, etc into a low oven to dry them and keep them warm. This stops them splitting when you pour in hot gooseberry cheese.
1. Put your berries in a deep pan with 150ml water and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat.
2. Put a nylon sieve over a large bowl and pour the berries into it. Use a wooden spoon to push all the berries through the sieve. You should now have a sieve full of the skin and other fiddly bits of the berries and a bowl full of pulp. Chuck the contents of the sieve out and measure the pulp in a measuring jug.
3. Return the pulp to the pan and add 60g sugar for every 100ml of pulp. Heat gently, stirring, until all the sugar has dissolved.
4. Raise the heat and bring to the boil. Lower the heat to let it boil gently, stirring frequently, for 33-45 minutes.
5. Regardless of how long it has been bubbling, when you can draw your wooden spoon through the pan and leave a clean line through the mixture – one that lets you see the bottom of the pan for a few seconds – it is ready. Pour it into your jars or moulds and cover immediately with cello covers, lids or paraffin wax.
6. While it is cooling, visit The Jam Labelizer to create your own classy Gooseberry Cheese label. Print onto card or adhesive sheets, cut out and tie/stick on once the jars have completely cooled.
Ideally, let your cheese mature for a month. Eat it within a year.
Click here to read The Thrifty Preserving Rules
Click here to read more about The Jam Labelizer in Glam Your Jam – A Thrifty And Very Nifty Tool For Making Jam Labels
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