If you have ever wondered how cloudberries taste, now there is a chance to taste some — without a single cloudberry involved. It’s a well-known fact in Finland that the combination of carrot and gooseberry produce the taste and look of cloudberry — at least they say so. Join me in my story as I explore whether that’s true or not.
If you happen to have some gooseberries at hand, that is a great opportunity to try out this enchanting recipe. If you cannot get gooseberries, I give some suggestions in the end of the post how to replace them.
I recommend to make the jam very smooth. Not only is it more beautiful and delicious, but you don’t taste the carrot or gooseberry separately. Those two ingredients will merge into a whole new, fascinating flavor.
I admit that even with so few ingredients making of the jam needs a little bit of effort. Don’t be afraid, it shouldn’t be too laborious anyway.
This jam is not very sweet, so you might want to add more sweetener if you like your jam really sweet. For example, liquid stevia is easy to add to the ready jam and it doesn’t have the cooling aftertaste which is typical to erythritol.
But, let’s check more closely the progress of making this jam.
Here are the ingredients.
Peel the carrots, slice them and cook until very tender.
While the carrots are cooking, clean the gooseberries by removing the hard ends. (Actually, if you took a good look at the picture below, you would notice that the carrots are still laid nicely in the bowl… just ignore that and imagine that the carrots are peeled, sliced and nicely boiling in a saucepan.)
Purée the cleaned gooseberries until very smooth.
When the carrots are tender, pour away all the water and also purée the carrots until very smooth.
Combine the carrot purée, gooseberry purée and the sweetener in a large saucepan.
Mix and let simmer covered for a half an hour. Stir few times, but be careful, the scalding hot jam can bubble vigorously and spatter! Before mixing, you can reduce the spattering by taking the saucepan from the heat. Open the lid carefully, mix, cover, put back on the heat and let continue simmering.
Finally, sprinkle the xanthan as gradually as you can, constantly mixing. Cover the saucepan and let the jam cool down completely.
My experiences when developing this recipe
There exist several Finnish recipes for conventional, sugar-laden mock cloudberry jam, “poor man’s cloudberry jam”. Even cloudberries are common in Finland, they are still rather expensive. Hence the name “poor man’s cloudberry jam”.
It has been my intention to convert a traditional recipe into low-carb since I haven’t seen any low-carb versions of this jam. Last year I already picked, puréed and froze some gooseberries for that purpose, but in the end I used the gooseberry purée for other purposes. I don’t even remember what I made from that purée. Anyway, most probably it wasn’t anything delicious since I don’t even remember what I made from that.
Finally this year I managed to develop the jam recipe. I haven’t ever tried the sugar-laden mock cloudberry jam, since I don’t use sugar, but anyway I wanted to try out if the combination of carrot and gooseberry makes a plausible cloudberry imitation in sugar-free jam.
On one beautiful day a couple of weeks ago I managed to pick the gooseberries from our green gooseberry bush. We do have another bush producing red gooseberries, but those were for later.
I googled some conventional recipes for “poor man’s cloudberry jam”. They varied a little. Some had equal amounts of carrots and gooseberries, some had half more carrots than gooseberries. And with each of those you were supposed to get a proper cloudberry jam imitation. Hmm.
I took one recipe where the carrot was first grated and then cooked tender with gooseberries, water and jelly sugar. That looked promising.
Since I couldn’t use jelly sugar, I decided to try xanthan as gelling agent. I was also planning to try out milled chia seeds later.
For my first experiment I bravely grated approximately 35 oz (1 kg) carrots and placed them with 17.5 oz (500 g) cleaned gooseberries and 3 oz (85 g) Zsweet sweetener in a large saucepan. I cooked the whole thing for over an hour.
The texture of the carrot remained rough. The grated carrots didn’t get tender at all. Totally weird. Maybe I should have added some water? On the other hand the gooseberries were releasing quite some fluid which I was hoping to help in cooking the carrot.
I tried to blend the mixture with immersion blender to get a smooth consistency. It didn’t work. The texture was still rough and grainy. Anyway, I added 1 pinch (1 ml) xanthan to see if I get something jam-resembling in the end.
Xanthan worked nicely, albeit the texture was still grainy. What was the worst, I couldn’t taste any cloudberry, rather carrot and gooseberry separately. I can say it wasn’t a nice taste experience.
I almost started panicking and was wondering how to improve the taste and the texture. I decided to cook the carrots first and then purée them to get guaranteed smooth result. In another saucepan I cooked the gooseberries until they turned into mash.
I wanted to find the best ratios for carrots and gooseberries so that the result would be as much cloudberry-like as possible. For that I took four ramekins. In each ramekin I placed some of the puréed carrot and gooseberries. I used different amounts to see which would be the ideal ratio for carrot and gooseberry. I sweetened all those experiments with liquid stevia.
I tasted a little from each ramekin. I had two favorites: one with 50 % carrot and 50 % gooseberry and the other with 67 % carrot and 33 % gooseberry.
I took one ramekin and mixed 1 teaspoon milled chia seeds to thicken the mixture. That didn’t work at all. First of all, the texture remained mash-like and the fluid was separating a bit. Secondly, the bright orange color got unappetizing, grayish hue. Since xanthan worked perfectly, I decided to stick to that.
But which ratios to choose? I tasted from my two favorites again and again. In the end I thought that the experiment with 67 % carrot and 33 % gooseberry tasted the best. Well, I couldn’t say if there was much cloudberry flavor, but at least I liked it most. I couldn’t taste the carrot, and the gooseberry wasn’t overpowering either. In the end the flavor was something new, something very fresh and fascinating, which I really liked.
Since quite a substantial amount of carrot is lost after peeling and removing the stems, I decided to use half more carrots to my next experiment which I did with full amounts of ingredients. According to my calculations there was more or less 67 % carrot and 33 % gooseberry left after all that peeling and cleaning.
To the next experiment with full amounts of ingredients I used more Zsweet sweetener than in my first experiment for sweeter flavor. Even then the jam wasn’t very sweet, but it was sweet enough for me.
The amount of xanthan needed some adjustments. Xanthan is quite nice in that sense that it thickens the stuff immediately, you don’t have to wait to see the effect.
I made still a couple more experiments. In the end I used 3 pinches (3 ml) for thick jam and 4 pinches (4 ml) for very thick jam. Xanthan sometimes makes the texture slimy or rubbery, but here I couldn’t see anything like that. The jam was smooth and velvety and tasted delicious!
To be honest, I have to use some imagination to taste the cloudberry in this jam. In any case, this is tasty and simply awesome jam whether you taste the cloudberry or not.
Finally, a hint if you cannot get gooseberries: replace them with currants, since currant is also a species of Ribes. Well, you won’t get cloudberry imitation, but you will get a very nice tart and tangy jam anyway! Just adjust the sweetness to your taste. You might have to add more sweetener, since currants — especially redcurrants — are often really tangy. If you are into smoother flavors, you can use less currants and more carrots. This jam, when made with blackcurrants and carrots, is especially great with chicken.
I also tried this jam with red gooseberries and carrots, but I simply didn’t like the result. Maybe the gooseberries I used were simply not ripe enough?
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