A jelly for both sweet and savoury dishes
Last year I planted two redcurrant bushes with the idea of using their berries to make preserves. In the first year they produced about 600 grams of fruit and then more than double that the second year. They’re a long lived bush so my two will continue to grow and produce more and more berries each year.
Though you might have seen redcurrants on fancy fruit platters and some might even like eating them fresh, the most popular way to prepare them is in a clear and gorgeously red jelly.
Filled with natural Pectin
Redcurrants are tart and loaded with pectin so you really only need white sugar and water in order to preserve them. The best thing about Redcurrant jelly isn’t how easy it is to make but the fact that it’s a versatile condiment.
Though it tastes great on traditional baked goods such as toast, scones and cakes I prefer using it as an accompaniment for meat. It’s wonderful as a substitute for Lingonberry when serving up Swedish meatballs and can also take the place of cranberry sauce with roasted turkey and game.
An easy recipe for beginners
If you haven’t made jelly before then I’d really recommend it as a first type of preserve. It’s relatively easy and satisfying to see all of the clear and brightly coloured jars lining your shelves.
Most people will have all the equipment they need in their kitchen already and both the jars and the jelly bag can be found at your local kitchen supply shop.
Redcurrant Jelly Recipe
Makes four 225g (8oz) jars
1kg (2.2lb) Redcurrants
500ml (17 fluid oz) Water
1. Rinse the berries and place them in a sauce pan with the water. Bring the pot to a simmer and keep it there until the berries are extremely soft and mushy – it will take around half an hour. Though not required, I find it helps to also squish the berries with a potato masher towards the end.
2. Pour the berries and juice into a jelly bag and allow the liquid to filter through the bag for at least six to eight hours. It helps to just do this step overnight so you’re not tempted to squeeze the bag. Squeezing it will likely result in your jelly being cloudy rather than clear.
3. The next day, measure the juice that has strained through the bag and for every 600ml (20 fluid oz) you’ll want to measure and set aside 450g (16 oz) of sugar.
4. Bring the juice to a boil then add the sugar. Stir the mixture until the sugar has dissolved and then allow the mixture to continue boiling for around 10 minutes or until the setting point has been reached. The best way to check for set is to dribble some of the liquid onto a plate you’ve kept very cold in the freezer. Allow the drop to cool then push at it with your finger. If it wrinkles up then it’s ready.
5. Remove the jelly from the stove top and let it sit for a minute so that a skin will form on the surface. With a spoon, skim this skin and any foam off the top before pouring the liquid into warm sterilised jars* and sealing them with lids and/or wax paper. Stored like this the jelly will keep for about a year without any further processing.
* You can reuse old jam jars collected from the supermarket for your homemade jams and jellies. Clean them first with warm soapy water, rinse well, then place them in your oven at 130C for thirty minutes before you begin making the jelly. Turn the oven off and the jars will remain warm until you take them out to fill. The lids are best sterilised in a bowl filled with boiling water.