Monday, July 03, 2006

Currant Jelly

From gorgeous fresh currants like these...


...comes magnificent, anti-oxidant-loaded, extremely delicious jelly like this:


But alas, as my entire harvest from my one-year-old currant bushes was all of one quart of mixed red, black, and white currants (mostly red and white), including stems, that's all the lovely currant jelly I got for this year! It was worth it, though, and the last of it adorned my English muffin this morning.

The jelly is about the easiest jelly I've made, since currants have plenty of pectin in them and don't need additional pectin to jell. In fact, I cooked this batch just a little too long and my jelly had almost the texture of jujubes. Took a bit of energy to spread the stuff. But oh, it tasted good.

Here's how to make it:

Start with several quarts of fresh-picked currants of whatever color you fancy, or a mixture therof. Don't bother to pick off the stems, since the whole mass will be strained for the juice. Put in a kettle with a little water, turn the heat on medium, and simer until the berries are soft. Mash a bit with potato masher or a whisk for more juice (or leave them be if you want the clearest juice).

The best thing to use to strain the juice is a jelly bag. If you don't have one, cut a big, big square of cheesecloth. Two single layers will do. Place the cheesecloth in a collander, and place the collander in a pan. Pour your juicy cooked currants in the collander. Let most of the juice drip through, then gather up the edges of the cheesecloth, tie with string, and hang from a knob on a cupboard over the pan and let it drip. If you want, you can squeeze the bag to get every last bit of juice out of it, but if you'll get the clearest jelly if you don't.

Measure the juice. For every cup of juice, add one cup of sugar. Put no more than 4 cups of juice and sugar mixture in a heavy-bottomed pan on the stove and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer. To test to see if the jelly is done, take some up in a large spoon and let it pour off the side. If it dribbles thinly, it's not ready, but if it pours in one semi-thick mass from the spoon, it's ready. Or dab some on a very cold plate and see if it sets up. My jelly took about 5 minutes to reach this stage. A full 4 cups should take 8-10 minutes. But do test from time to time.

To preserve the jelly, pour into clean, hot, sterilized half-pint jelly glasses, leaving about 1/2 to 1/4 inch of space from the top. Place a clean, hot lid on top and put on a screw ring tightly. Turn the jar over and let it cool completely. This nearly always creates a seal when the jar is turned upright again. Don't try to seal a half-jar of jelly. Instead, put it in the refrigerator for your morning muffins.

8 comments:

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Ann said...

Hello. Thank you for your info. on how to make current jelly. It was very useful to me. Especially the part on what it should look like when it is finished cooking. And the sugar to juice ratio. Today I made some jelly. I only had 3/4 cup of juice - so I only have enough to enjoy on toast for the next few days. It was so easy - now I want to see if I can make other kinds of jelly!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this wonderful way of making the currant jelly. I appreciated the simple breakdown of cups of juice to sugar ratio. Tomorrow I will pick some more currants and make a bigger batch.