The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Dessert gooseberry and white currant jellies recipe

dessert gooseberry jelliesSometimes we both cook when friends come for supper. If Danny is doing the main course he’s not keen on sharing a stove ever since the time I cooked my starters in the top oven and the kitchen filled with black noxious smoke. We’d only used this part of the oven as a grill before. And since.

Now I generally make the starter and the pud in the morning. Jellies are ideal if you are preparing in advance. They are easy, look pretty and are a great way of padding out a small tray of soft fruit.

Even though I’m now Queen of the Fruit Cages I have plans for this fruit – most will star in epics on the drinks tray.

Under the nets this week, happily chatting to a neighbour who was cutting back one of our shrubs that had quietly infiltrated his garden, I realised why soft fruit is so expensive. It takes ages to pick. The temptation to eat as one picks doesn’t help. It’s important to savour some as soft fruit is at its best guzzled immediately but this can be dangerous if one is pressed for time. As I listened to my nieghbour’s stories, from the shade of the raspberry canes, time drifted. Hearing his tales of working on an old English estate had me at the fence in a second, raspberries forgotten.
“When her ladyship died we had two days to get the lowering of the coffin into the grave right.
They said,
‘Smith, dig a deep trench.’
And that done we practiced lowering an old oak gate post into the depths. On ribbons mind you! If the coffin doesn’t go down straight and square it can roll and has been known to open.”
He peered at me steadily, through the brambles.

My neighbour turned down the offer of a handfull of plump raspberries.
“Sorry Fiona, I’m not a soft fruit man but I am keeping the blackberry canes that have scrambled over from yours. The berries were nice and pump last year and made a good blackberry and apple crumble.”

So I moved out of earshot, into the other cage where I’m cosseting loads of other fruit. One hero is a dessert gooseberry bush. These blush when ripe and can be eaten without sugar. They have a similar tartness to a kiwi fruit. A great investment if you ever see a bush for sale. They are definitely worth the extra expense as they are far more useful than the standard gooseberry. They can be cooked but are great raw in fresh fruit salads and they’re perfect for jellies and garnishes. Unfortunately they are not as prolific as an ordinary gooseberry bush. Our bush made six individual jellies and will provide the voompf for a 75mll bottle of dessert gooseberry vodka. So it is treated with respect.

A white currants bush also lurks in this cage. Not as bountiful as redcurrants and miles behind the harvest one can pick from a blackcurrant bush. However, if you have the space a white currant bush is a great investment. Pretty white berries, almost sweet enough to eat straight from the bush. They have a palatable tartness that bursts softy in the mouth. Again perfect for jellies and possibly for white currant vodka. The Cottage Smallholder Fruit Gin and Vodka Research Station is going to try this for the first time this year. It will be secreted in a safe spot in the barn and opened at Christmas.


Dessert gooseberry and white currant jellies recipe
Recipe Type: Dessert
Prep time: 30 mins
Total time: 30 mins
  • 500ml of water
  • 75g of vanilla castor sugar (we keep a vanilla pod in our jar)
  • 1 tsp of fresh lemon juice
  • 100g of dessert gooseberries
  • 50g of white currants
  • 2 tsp of kirsch
  • 4 leaves of gelatine
  1. Wash, top and tail the gooseberries. Reserve 25g of gooseberries and slice these to add to the jelly in the final stages. Wash the white currants and remove the fruit from the stalks. If you have infinite patience you can snip the dark ends from the fruit. They taste fine with dark ends in place.
  2. Dissolve the sugar in the water, add 75g of gooseberries and bring slowly up to simmering point. Simmer the gooseberries for 5 minutes and then remove from the heat and steep for five minutes. Strain the mixture through muslin and reserve the liquid.
  3. Meanwhile soak the gelatine in cold water until soft. Squeeze out the water gently and add the gelatine to the (hot not boiling) gooseberry liquid and stir to dissolve. Add the kirsch.
  4. Allow the jelly mixture to cool before dividing the remaining gooseberries and the white currants between 6-8 100ml glasses.
  5. Pour the jelly mixture into each glass, over the fruit and allow to set (this can take several hours). Transfer the jellies to the fridge when they are cool enough. Refrigerated, these jellies will keep for a couple of days.

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  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Farmer

    If you have both types of bush you can be far more lavish with the fruit than I’ve been and your jellies will be wonderful.

    Hope that the recipe worked out for you.

    I had a peek at your blog – great writing. I was intrigued about the snake!

  2. Farmer de Ville

    Perfect! I have bushes full of white currants and red gooseberries right now and haven’t had any new inspirations on what to do with them next. Seems like these juicy looking desserts might need to be thrown together this evening…


  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Plumsource

    The jellies were good!

    White currant vodka is in the starting stalls!

  4. plumsource

    Your jellies look gorgeous – so pretty! And respect due – whitecurrant vodka – sounds absolutely amazing. I can’t wait to hear what it tastes like.

  5. Fiona Nevile

    Hello JuliaB

    Thanks for the link!

  6. JuliaB

    I found the recipe on – it’s called English Gooseberry Cobbler and it gave me a chance to use my homemade elderflower cordial in a recipe for the first time. It was so easy to make and it went down a storm at Sunday lunch! I will definitely be making it again.

  7. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Maybelle’s Mom

    If you have bought ordinary gooseberries you’ll need more sugar in the jelly. Taste it and adjust when you are simmering it. You will need to slice the gooseberries that are added to the jelly fine too, so as to disperse that tartness.

    If you can’t get white currants there are loads of alternatives. Grapes (sliced) would be a good foil to green gooseberries. Also raspberries would be good if you have the red dessert ones.

    I’d love to hear how you get on!

    Hello Magic Cochin

    I am joining you in mourning your Whinhams Industry. A great loss. Hopefully you will get another before Christmas!

    White currants are a joy. This spring I discovered that ours had sporned a baby!

    Hi JuliaB

    Gooseberry and elderflower cobbler sounds amazing. I’d love to see the recipe!

    I’ve only switched onto jellies for the past few years. I reckoned that they’d be a palaver to make so I didn’t bother to investigate. When I tasted Judy’s Elderflower and lime jellies I was transfixed and have played with jellies ever since. Savoury jellies are good too.

    As I said to Maybelle’s Mom, if you are using green gooseberries they will need more sugar – easily adjusted in the jelly making stage. You need to use a much sweeter fruit in the fresh fruit mix as well.

  8. JuliaB

    I went fruit picking with my two daughters and my mother in law on Friday after school. We managed to pick strawberries, raspberries, two types of cherries and some gooseberries. The gooseberries were turned into a gooseberry and elderflower cobbler, which was delicious. I am not a big fan of jellies, but yours look so yummy, I may have to go back and pick some more gooseberries and have a go!

  9. magic cochin

    Sadly our Whinhams Industry dessert gooseberry bush died this winter. We had a fantastic crop last season and I’d got the taste for the lovely burgundy red fruit.

    Those jellies look divine – inspired by your raspberry jelly I made “summer pudding” jellies from red currants, raspberries and black currants we sampled them last night – wonderful!!!!

    Thank you for reminding me about the delights of white currants, my Gran grew them and I loved eating the fruit straight from the bush. I think I’ll ask Santa for white currant and dessert gooseberry bushes!


  10. maybelles mom (feeding maybelle)

    AH, I am so excited to find this. I just bought some gooseberries for my mother (she loves them). But, it turns out gooseberries from India are extremely different than Western ones, so I need to use them. Any idea what I could substitute for white currants. Can’t even get red ones, I am afraid.

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