Redcurrant sauce is a great alternative to cranberry , with the same sweet-tart taste and cheery colour. Best of all, for DIY-ers, the redcurrants are easy to grow at home, and to pick them you don’t need to flood half of Maine, just yank them off the bush, twiggy bits and all.
Oh my, are they a pain to prepare though. They are so pretty, like perfect round rubies, but after hours of top and tailing them, they don’t seem like little gems anymore, more like drops of hard-won blood. You have to do so many of them to get even one jar of jam, and while all the other children are playing in the fields, there you are, bent over your bowl of currants.
But I have the soloution. Just top and tail a few, to give a jammy, rather than a jelly texture, and juice the rest, stalks and all. Because of the high pectin content, this makes a foolproof preserve, which I think is particuarly good with soft cheeses and poultry.
Redcurrant Jelly / Jam
The amount of sugar you will need will depend on how much juice you extract from the currants, but it will be roughly equal to the amount of fruit you have collected.
- Remove the stalks using fingers or tweezers from about one third of the currants, or realistically, as many as you have time for. I probabaly managed a lot less than that before getting bored. Set these currants aside for later.
- Throw the rest of the currents in a big pan, stalks and all. Add enough water to just cover the bottom of the pan and simmer over a low heat until soft.
- Extract the juce by squeezing through a sieve. Add the reserved currants and wiegh all the friut and juice. This is how much sugar you will need.
- Get your jars ready. Wash them and put them in a medium oven to warm up.
- Return the juice, fruit and sugar to your pan and stir to dissolve. Bring gradually to the boil.
- When you have reached boiling point, skim off any scum which has formed and boil hard for eight minutes. Pot into the jars and seal.