Red Currant Jelly

July 13th, 2009 / Comments 7

The small ad in the newspaper said “Pick your own Red Currants.”

red+currant+bush+01 Red Currant Jelly

Riverview Farm in Plainfield, New Hampshire was the place. The sign at a bend in the Connecticut River pointed at the lane to the fields and the currants. The bushes were filled with stems of ruby spheres and picking was easy. There were no bugs, it wasn’t raining, the sun was shining and the sky was blue. In less than forty minutes we had picked three pounds of red currant.
currants+in+bowl+01 Red Currant Jelly
Paul Franklin, proprietor of Riverview Farm weighted the currants and we talked recipes for a few minutes. He told me about his breakfast biscuits with red currants folded in.

Another farmer told me that red currants had been hunted and eliminated by federal agents in the early 1900′s because of concern for the ‘white pine blister rust’ and fear that white pines would suffer the same devastation as the elms. He went on with a smile, ‘If they had tried to take Granny’s red currant bushes, she would have met them with a shot gun.’

Let’s get to the juicy part. Here’s how I did it:

currants+in+large+blue+bowl Red Currant Jelly

Uncooked Russian Red Currant Jelly

This unlikely recipe appealed to me because I thought it might be a better way to preserve the fresh color and taste of the currants.

I began by putting a large handful of currants into a shallow bowl in the sink, and with a gentle stream of cold water overfilling the bowl, I separated the currants from the stems, the currants sank and the bits of leaves and twigs floated and washed out of the bowl.

If you’d rather not take the time, you can simply remove large pieces of debris and rinse the currants without removing the stems. I crushed the currants with a mortal and pestle and put the fruit into a jelly bag suspended over a bowl and went out to dinner.

currant+juice+orange+bowl Red Currant Jelly

In the morning I weighed the juice and an equal quantity of white sugar. Stirring constantly, I slowly added the sugar, and stirred, and stirred until the sugar was completely dissolved. It took about twenty minutes of stirring.

I poured the sweetened juice into small canning jars and processed them in boiling water for ten minutes to seal. The notes I had said that the jelly set more easily in small jars.

jars+of+currant+jelly+01 Red Currant Jelly

The jelly looked beautiful but I had my doubts that it would really work so I decided to press on, literally, and make a second batch of jelly using the crushed and drained fruit still in the jelly bag.

Cooked Red Currant Jelly

I put the fruit along with an equal quantity of water in a sauce pan and boiled it for ten minutes, before pouring it all into my faithful jelly bag. Running out of patience, after twenty minutes of draining, I squeezed the remaining liquid from the fruit, and combined it in a heavy bottomed pot in a ratio of three quarters of a cup of sugar for each cup of liquid.

I brought this to a boil, skimmed off the foam that rose to the top and cooked it until the thermometer read two hundred and twenty degrees, or eight degrees higher than the boiling point.  The finished jelly was sealed in small jars.

I was extremely doubtful that juice and sugar would be magically transformed into jelly but — eight hours after I put it into jars, I opened one and it is jelling. The flavor is amazing.

note: the uncooked jelly is in the flat jar and the cooked is in the tall jars.

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• 7 Responses to “Red Currant Jelly”

  • Anonymous says:

    Just made the Russian no cook jelly. It was a little time consuming, but very easy. The remains in the bowl tasted amazing, so I can't wait for the jelly to set so I can taste the final result. I have to agree with the statement on making small batches. We have one bush and it gave me just enough for 4 small jars, which is perfect for us.
    thanks

  • Anonymous says:

    I just planted three currant bushes this past spring – one red, one black, and one white. I can't wait until next spring to see if I will have enough fruit to try to make some jelly!
    danab

  • Carol Egbert says:

    I'm much happier making six (or less) jars of jam than doing an enormous batch. The ruby glow of the currants sure make it worth the trouble.

  • applecrumbles says:

    That looks great. There have been a lot of jelly/jam recipes out there in blog land lately. I wish I could get into it but the jar prep. puts me off.
    Your photos and the recipe make it look/sound delish.

  • Lo says:

    I have such fond memories of currant jelly! My mother made it most years. I was always amazed at the amount of effort that went into jams and jellies!

  • Carol Egbert says:

    I haven't tried it but will be at the market with my paintings tomorrow, (if it doesn't rain), and will be sure to try it. If you are at the market come say hello.

    Carol

  • thrutherose says:

    have you tried the red currant wine at the wednesday market? Putney Mt. Winery makes it, called Cassis— tastes like SACRED!

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