How to grow jostaberries at home
Jostaberries are the perfect cross between gooseberries and blackcurrants. Jostaberry marmalade is already one of my new favorites at the breakfast table!
I was finally able to start harvesting the jostaberries in my garden. I'm so excited! I planted the first bushy plant in 2016. We were able to get a few berries the year after and now it's time for the first proper harvest. Most berry bushes take around 2 years to adjust to their new environment and you can usually get a good amount of berries in year 3. So, if you want to grow jostaberries, remember to plan ahead.
Jostaberries is a cross between blackcurrants and goose berries. And they actually taste just like a perfect mix of the two! They have a nice refreshing tart flavor like currants, but the texture is more similar to the gooseberry. I think that gooseberries can taste a bit too sweet sometimes, so I have high hopes for the jostaberries instead!
Learn more about growing berries: How to propagate raspberries
Large jostaberry plant
If you want to try to grow jostaberries in your garden at home, there's something you need to know about them. They take up a lot of space! The main stem looks like a little tree and the entire plant is so big and bushy. I was actually a bit taken aback by how large it was last year. Since jostaberries aren't very common in Sweden, I didn't really know how large the bush would get. If I had known, I had probably used a different spot in my garden.
Long and thin shoots grow from the main stem. These will start producing berries in year two, and the shoots spread out everywhere.
In order to keep the jostaberry bush under control, I decided to prune it the same way I do with my blackcurrant bushes: I remove all the shoots that spread out too far to the sides, and I instead create a hedge-like shape.
How the berries ripen
I could tell that the berries didn't ripen at the same time, like for example currants do. Since the berries grow in bunches, it would, of course, have been a lot more convenient if I could harvest them all at the same time. So, I got my first harvest by picking them berry by berry. The plan is to harvest them all in a week or so when they should be ripe.
The berries are slightly smaller than regular gooseberries, but it doesn't take long to pick quite a lot of them. I got around 3 1/2 pounds (around 1.5 kilos) on my first try and I'm counting on getting just as many next time.
From what I have read about jostaberries, they are apparently not supposed to produce that many berries. Could my success have anything to do with my rigorous pruning? I know that the blackcurrants start producing more berries when pruned. So, if I can get all in all 7 pounds (around 3 kilos) of berries from one single bush, then I'm very pleased.
The idea was to make marmalade with my jostaberries, but I had forgotten how well you have to clean them before you can start. It took me about half an hour but I know it makes all the difference in the world. Especially for the kids who hate getting anything unfamiliar in their jam or marmalade.
More about berries: How to grow honeyberries
My jostaberry marmalade
I used an old recipe for regular gooseberry marmalade, but I used less sugar and no seasoning. I like keeping the flavor natural when I'm cooking fruits, berries or vegetables I'm not used to. This is how I did it:
- 2 lbs 3 oz (around 1 kilo) cleaned (remove any stalks and plant parts) jostaberries
- 1 lbs 12 oz sugar
- a little bit less than 1/2 cup (1 dl) water
- the juice from 1 lemon
I put all of the ingredients in a large pot and heated the contents slowly while stirring to make sure that the sugar melted. I boiled the marmalade until some of the water evaporated. After that, I tested the texture by pouring a little marmalade on a plate and putting it in the fridge. You can tell that the marmalade is done if you are able to touch the marmalade with your finger without it collapsing into a puddle.
After that, I poured the marmalade into little jars. I keep them in the fridge.
I had to try my new jostaberry marmalade and I have to say that it turned out great! I like tart flavors and this marmalade really has it all for me. It's my new favorite choice for my breakfast sandwich or as a snack with tea.
I hope that the next harvest will be just as good so that I can try another recipe. I would love to make jostaberry juice since I can use the entire bunches without having to clean them so thoroughly. But if my kids insist, I don't mind cleaning them more carefully for another batch of marmalade.
Do you have a favorite marmalade? Have you tried growing jostaberries in your garden at home? Comment below!