Saturday, July 18, 2009

Currant Jam

Just this past year I ventured into the land of non commercial pectin, jellies, jams and preserves. So far I have been pleasantly surprised. I used to think that the only way to get my fruits to gel was to use Sure Jel or Certo. They do work great but I learned that a lot of fruit has its own pectin and adding apples (tart ones) can make your fruit set as well. It is sometimes a softer set but sometimes that is better. Did you ever have a jam that was too hard to spread? This particular currant jam and the apricot one were a firmer set all by themselves. Though as Ferber points out in her book, each fruit, each year, has its own unique character and no two batches are ever the same.

Currants are a pain in the patoot to work with but you will reap tasty rewards with this one. It doesn't make a lot so start off with a huge amount of berries. Take the time to take off all the branches and stems because they can give off a bitter taste. So I can not wait to make some scones or biscuits to spread this all over.

Have you ever wondered what is the difference between jelly, jam and preserves. I found this quick summary from How It Works.

"Jelly, jam and preserves are all made from fruit mixed with sugar and pectin. The difference between them comes in the form that the fruit takes.

  • In jelly, the fruit comes in the form of fruit juice.
  • In jam, the fruit comes in the form of fruit pulp or crushed fruit (and is less stiff than jelly as a result).
  • In preserves, the fruit comes in the form of chunks in a syrup or a jam.
Pectin is an indigestible carbohydrate (fiber). It is found in the cell walls of most fruit. When heated with sugar in water, it gels, giving jam, jelly and preserves their thickness."

Currant Jam
recipe adapted from Mes Confitures by Christine Ferber
published by Michigan State University Press

2 3/4 pounds red currants
3 3/4 cups sugar
juice of one lemon (about a 1/4 of a cup)

Clean currants in cold water, drain and stem. In a non reactive pot combine berries, lemon and sugar and bring to a simmer. Remove mixture from the heat and pour into a glass or ceramic bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, puree the currants in a blender. Pour through a fine sieve and with a rubber spatula mash the currants on the sides to push liquid through. Discard stems and seeds. Yield: 5 or 6 - 1/2 pints.

Place mixture back in a pan and bring to a boil, stirring gently. Continue the simmer for about five minutes. Check the set with a cold dish. Put jam into jars and seal. *Turn the jars upside down for ten minutes. Turn right side up and check to see if they have sealed in an hour or so.

*Just a reminder that not all people prefer to can jam with this method. The FDA does not recommend it. I am okay with taking the risk. This is how I was taught to can from my Mother and I continue to use this method.

16 comments:

Mary said...

Your jam looks like liquid rubies. I do strawberry and raspberry every summer, but have never worked with currants. You've started me thinking.

Chow and Chatter said...

delicious currents are big in the UK you are such a great cook

chocolatecup said...

omgggggg. i have never had currant jam before and this looks yummyyummy:) pls send me a bottle!!!:)

Marta said...

It's a no-return deal! I think once you start making your own preserves, you never want store-bought ones again. home made is just so much better!
Great recipe, it looks so bright and lively :)

Murasaki Shikibu said...

Your jam....ahhhh... Why am I not your neighbor?

farawayme said...

I am following your recipe and just have aquestion.... does it matter if I put the mashed berries in a plastic tub in the fridge as I don't have a glass or ceramic one big enough especially as I douybled the recipe!

I am going to add port to mine and save them for xmas pressies! thanks x

Lori said...

Mary- It is worth the effort and experimentation. Currant sauce is great too. I made some with a little brandy and we all loved it.

Chow and Chatter- Thank you. If you lived here I would invite you for dinner some time.

Chocolate Cup- It is yummy. I wish I could but I am currently coveting them.

Marta- You are so right. Store bought jam- bleh. Thank you.

Murasaki- You can be my neighbor anytime. I would love a fellow foodie nearby.

farawayme- A plastic tub would work fine. The only thing I might do if I did it that way is to cool it off a bit before you put it in the tub. This port idea sounds interesting.

Grace said...

i've never played with currants, so i had no idea they were so troublesome. the end result is beautiful!

Katy said...

How long are you able to keep this jam on the shelf? I presume the FDA wants you to preserve it by boiling it in a water bath or a pressure cooker afterwards?

I've never in my life had currant jam. It looks divine! How do you use it?

Lori said...

Grace- The part that is troublesome is that they are really small and have little seeds. But really they are worth it.

Katy- Yes you presume correctly. The water bath is what they recommend. I make my jam without water baths all the time. I have had a few that have been there a couple years. They are fine.

kat said...

Wow, it such a beautiful color. I used tart apples as a pectin in some of my jam this year too & it worked so nicely

farawayme said...

I have to say it turned out very well, I like this method of making jam, it was so glossy. I addedabout 6 tbsp of port and it had a good flavour.

Thanks for the great recipe! x

Catherine said...

Thank you so much for helping me "jelly" a huge bushel of black currants! I used your recipe and a few others to create my own yummy insanity.

Lori said...

Catherine- would love to hear what you made. Do you have a blog? I am glad you could use the recipe!

Mariko said...

Wow?! This is the first I've heard of not having to give the jars a water bath? This is my least favorite part about canning. Does this method work only for jams? I'm so in! I think I'll make this tonight, just picked our currents. THANKS!!

KeeKee'sFoodieBlog said...

Thank you for this recipe Lori. My boyfriend and I went Berry picking for the first time yesterday and I have about 2 pounds of currants that I want to make something with! I'll post photos when I make the jam!

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