… Red. The garden birds raid the bushes greedily, and if it wasn’t for our rough-and-ready covering of fine netting, the currants would be always ripening … almost ripe … but never a single one ripe – for us, at least. The bushes are slow to mature, but they eventually produce prolific quantities of delicate translucent scarlet-red currants suspended on long racimes.
Tempting though they may look, even fully ripe they are still very tart – though with a delicate flavour. But as a sweet jelly, reducurrant are irresistable, especially on a buttered scone or toast.
Recurrants are very rich in pectin, so making redcurrant jelly couldn’t be easier :
- Strip the currants off the racemes, removing any currants that are small or green or hard.
- In a sieve or colander, rinse under a tap and leave to drain
- Transfer the currants to a large saucepan (with or without lid) and add sufficient water so that the currants are only just floating and can be easily stirred with a large wooden spoon
- Bring the pan to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes
- Prepare a large mixing bowl and a ‘jelly bag’ with string and a firmly fixed hook (or some other means to support the full bag) so that the bag can be suspended just above the bowl
- Pour the currants and liquid into the jelly bag, taking care none of it spills onto the outside of the bag or into the bowl
- Tie up the neck of the bag with string and tie to the hook or other support, adjusting so that the bottom of the bag is only just above the bowl [You may need assistance for this stage]
- Leave for several hours to strain, until the dripping stops entirely. Do not under any circumstances squeeze or apply any pressure to the bag over the bowl – it will spoil the flavour of the jelly and cause it to be cloudy.
- Remove the jelly bag (if you have chickens, they will love the reside from the bag!)
- Transfer the strained juice into a maslin pan or a heavy open pan, or similar, measuring the quantity in pints.
- For every pint of juice, add a 1 lb of sugar
- For every pint of juice, wash, sterlilize and leave to air-dry – four 8 oz jam jars and lids
- Bring the pan to the boil, and then turn down the heat a little – maintaining a steady rolling boil for about five minutes – but test frequently for setting (putting a spoonful of hot liquid onto a cold saucer)
- Remove the pan from the heat, skim off any ‘scum’ with a spoon
- Without delay, pour or ladle the hot liquid into the jam jars, filling right up to the neck ; skilm off any ‘scum’ with a teaspoon
- Promptly apply lids and screw tight. Avoid tipping or wobbling the jars until they are cold.