August 29, 2015

Summer In A Jar: Red Currant Jam

by Anja


I have to face it, summer is coming to an end here in Switzerland. This summer has  spoiled us with plenty of hot and sunny summer days and I got to swim in the river a lot. This season has again been way too short for my taste. I could easily go on with all of summers pleasures- swimming, meeting friends for barbecues, relaxing in a comfy deck chair under a shady tree for many more weeks. But fall is in the air, the mornings are cool and crisp with fog lingering over the valley.

As much as I wish I could, I cannot put the summer in a jar... or can I?

We still find red currants in our gardens and farmers markets. And for me, they are the taste of summer, fresh and tart. Too tart sometimes to eat straight from the bush, but that tartness makes them the perfect fruit for jam. I don't like overly sweet jams and preserves, so my favorite ones are made of tart fruit. Rhubarb in spring and red currants in summer.

Nothing beats the taste of red currant jam on fresh, crusty bread on a cold winter day. I feel transported back to summer in an instant and dream of warmer and sunnier days.

The jam is quite easy to make, give it a try!

Ingredients:
1 lb (500g) red currants
about 1 lb (500g) jelly sugar (see notes below)
about 1/4 cup (100ml) water.
nut milk bag or fine mesh sieve
2-3 glass jars (Mason or Weck work well)


1. Remove red currants from stem, rinse and put in a large pot. Add enough water just so that it covers the bottom of the pot.

2. Cook the red currants, stirring frequently, until they’re soft and wilted. Once cooked, remove from stove and let cool for a few minutes.

3. Place nut milk bag into a big bowl, pour currants into bag and gently squeeze until all juices have been collected. Compost solid parts.

4. Measure the amount of juice you've got, then put the juice back into the pot. Add equal amount of jelly sugar (i.e, for each cup of juice you want to add 1 cup of sugar).
Jelly sugar works best. It contains pectin as a gelling agent and usually also citric acid as a preservative. Pectin is a naturally occurring substance (a polyscaccaride) found in berries, apples and other fruit.  When heated together with sugar, it causes a thickening that is characteristic of jams and jellies. If you can't find jelly sugar look for commercial pectin to add to your sugar. You can also make the jam without pectin by using preserving sugar or regular sugar. Just cook the jam for a few more minutes to ensure it thickens enough.

5. Carefully mix juice and sugar and cook over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Once the mixture is at a rolling boil, let it boil for five minutes undisturbed.
Ladle the jam into clean jars up to the top and screw on the lids firmly. Turn the jars upside down and let cool completely.

Enjoy the taste of summer whenever you open your jars!

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