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.
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.