Use 15 per cent caster sugar, ie 15g sugar per 100g topped and tailed gooseberries


1 Wash, then top & tail the gooseberries

2 Weigh the gooseberries, then add the correct amount of caster sugar

3 Place all in a saucepan with a good splash of water to prevent catching

4 Cover the saucepan and place over a medium heat

5 Bring to a simmer, stirring often to prevent catching

6 When the compote begins to simmer, turn the heat down as low as possible and cook gently until the gooseberries are very soft

7 Turn off the heat, cover and leave to cool slightly then push through a fine sieve with the back of a label (optional- you can leave skins in if you prefer)

8 Leave to cool fully then store in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer.

9 Tip – freeze in small bags or containers for easy desserts and garnishes

Once you have a stash of compote, the following recipes are easy to put together:

Grilled Mackerel with gooseberries and wholegrain mustard

This recipe is perfect for the barbeque but works equally well indoors.


Per person:

2 mackerel fillets

50g gooseberry compote

2 tsp wholegrain mustard

100g crème fraiche


1 If cooking indoors, preheat chargrill or grill on medium high for at least 10 minutes.

2 Wipe the mackerel skin with a paper towel to dry, then rub with vegetable oil to prevent sticking.

3 Season the flesh side with a little sea salt and a smear of the compote

4 Place the fillets skin side down on the barbeque or chargrill, or skin side up under a hot grill and cook for 1-2 minutes then check. Mackerel cooks very quickly due to its open texture so check every 30 seconds or so after this. The fish is done when the flesh has become opaque. If you are cooking for young children, pregnant women, the elderly, or any other risk group, it is of course best to err on the side of caution and cook the fish until well done, although I’d personally rather eat it raw than over cooked.

5 Mix the crème fraiche, gooseberry compote and grain mustard together. Taste and add more mustard, gooseberry or crème fraiche to your own taste. A little salt will up lift it too.

6 Serve the mackerel with a pot of the sauce and crusty bread or green salad

Gooseberry & Elderflower Compote

Makes 4 servings


200g gooseberry compote

50g elderflower cordial

400g double cream or thick natural yoghurt

20g caster sugar


1 Lightly whip cream and sugar together to soft peaks (the acidity of the cordial and gooseberries will thicken the cream, so take care not to over whip or it may curdle) or stir sugar into yoghurt

2 Fold gooseberry compote into the mix then stir in elderflower cordial

3 Taste to check for sweetness and add more sugar or cordial if desired

4 Transfer to either one large or four smaller serving dishes and chill for 20 minutes or so before serving

5 Serve with shortbread or oaten biscuits Gooseberry Jelly and Jam Wash the gooseberries and remove any bits of twig or stem (no need to top and tail) then place into a saucepan along with a good splash of water.

Cook, stirring regularly until beginning to soften, then remove from heat. Hang the fruit in a jam bag; or, cut a large rectangle of muslin cloth, double over to make a square, then place the cloth in a sieve over a large bowl. Pour the fruit into the muslin, then draw together the sides and tie with string to make a bag. Tie this bag up at height over the bowl and hang over night in a cool place.

The next day, weigh the juice and add 90g jam sugar per 100g juice (or, add 90g caster sugar and pectin as per the instructions on the packet). Bring to the boil, skimming any scum from the surface as you go. Turn the heat down so that the jelly simmers away.

Cook to 104C if you have a jam thermometer or digital probe. If not, bring to the boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes then begin to check by place a small amount on a saucer and putting in the freezer for a minute. Check thickness of jelly by running a finger through it. If the jelly runs back together, cook for longer. If the finger mark remains, the jelly should set up.

Decant the jelly into sterilised jars and store in a cool, dry place, or in the fridge in a kilner jar or plastic container. The jelly is great on sandwiches, with smoked meats and strong cheeses or as a garnish for game.

If you would like to make jam, top and tail the fruit before commencing but don’t bother to hang it after cooking. Instead, weigh the softened fruit and add 90 per cent jam sugar, or sugar and pectin, as directed above. Don’t call me crazy, but do try the jam with strong cheddar on toast. Honest.