Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Redcurrant Jelly - tutorial

With various voices demanding what I am harvesting at the moment it has been so repetitive to reply with the constant refrain of nothing - it's been too wet then too dry then too wet - but finally there they were, luscious little red berries peeking through the foliage - the first redcurrants of the year.

Now I am not known for my jam making, I make very little of it because we generally eat very little of it. In fact show me a ripe fruit and my first reaction is to throw it into some alcohol and make a liqueur not to smear it on some bread during the winter months.

But I was feeling all domestic goddessy today so with a colander full of redcurrants I decided that jelly not jam was the way.

Before you ask I don't know the proper differentiation between jam and jelly but to my mind it goes like this - jam has bits in, and jelly is strained to create a clear liquid.  I make grape jelly, quince jelly and raspberry jam, and then there are compotes which are just stewed fruit and not set like a jam or a jelly is.

Redcurrant Jelly tutorial 

First catch your redcurrants.
The easiest way I have found to strip the fruit from the bushes is to use a fork, just run the tines along the fruit clusters and the ripe red berries will pop off into your bowl.
As you may have noticed from many of my recipes I am not a great fan of measurements, but unfortunately for jam/jelly you do need to do some measuring.  So I have simplified everything into cup measurements.  I have no idea how large a 'cup' is supposed to be in terms of conversion tables for American recipes, but for this as long as you use the same cup throughout you will be fine.

I use the plastic water beaker from my bread machine as my basic cup size.
Boil your redcurrants in water to the following ratio - 2:1 - 2 cups of fruit to 1 cup of water.  Boil until they are dissolving - about 15 minutes.

Then strain either through a very fine mesh sieve, or through a jam sieve.  Leave to drain for about an hour, then put a weight in and leave for another hour.

 I just used a can of tomatoes wrapped in some cling film as my weight, straight on top of the fruit in the jam sieve.
 If you have the time, you can add some additional weights and let the juice continue to drain for longer.

Once you have your liquid, measure the volume - again I do this in cups, and pour back into the saucepan. Then add a cup of sugar per cup of fruit juice, and bring to the boil, stirring continuously.

Once at a rolling boil, stop stirring and let the liquid cook for 5 to 8 minutes, skim off any scum that may form on top.  The jelly should reach setting point at about 104°C - but I don't have a jam thermometer so do the saucer test instead - take a teaspoon of the jam mixture, put on a cool saucer and leave for 60 seconds by which time it should start to form a skin.  If not let the mixture cook for another minute.

You will need to have some sterilised jars ready - the easiest way to do this is to pour some boiling water into a clean dry jar, put the lid on, shake well and leave to cool for a couple of minutes, pour away the water and immediately pour in your mixture.  You can also sterilise jars in the oven, and also once filled you can boil them in a water bath.

Pour your jelly mixture into your jars and turn upside down for a few minutes to create a good seal, then pop the right way round and leave to set.

Once opened they will keep in the fridge for a while, or store in a cool dark place until Christmas for Goose with Redcurrant jelly.

If for some reason your jam or jelly does not set - open the jar back up, reboil with some more sugar, preferably preserving sugar which has added pectin and pour into a clean sterile jar to set.

Oh I do feel all domestic goddess like now!

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