A transplanted Southern Californian living in North Dakota Idaho, with some insights on life with deaf dogs, a gluten free spouse, and the occasional mischievous garden gnome. Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Raspberry Currant Jam

We had the good fortune to come into some raspberries a few weekends ago.  A friend of Alycia's has a bunch of raspberry bushes in her yard and invited Alycia over to pick some, and you better believe that we took her up on the offer.  Free raspberries?  Heck yes.

Alycia trundled off in her best berry picking outfit and went twice in the span of a week, coming back with about 8 pints and 15 pints respectively from her two trips. We took one of these batches and laid the berries out on cookies sheets in the freezer, then transferred them to plastic bags once they were frozen (this is a great trick to keep things like raspberries and strawberries from freezing together in a great big icy clump).  The rest of the raspberries went into the pot and made into jam.  Sweet, tart, delicious jam.
The recipe we used (you can skip the rest of this post and just find the full recipe here) is raspberry currant jam and since currants are used, there's no need to add pectin.  Yay!  No more fussing around with the pectin solutions to make sure I've got the right amount, and no jam that won't set because I messed up the math somehow.  Currants are chock full of natural pectin and the jam will set magnificently with no added pectin, just the naturally occurring amount in the currants.  

We have some currant bushes near the driveway that produced a bumper crop this year.  These are in their second year and the few berries that popped out last year got gobbled up by the birds (I was slow to apply the bird netting last year).  This year I properly netted the currants and gathered 10 cups of currants from just 2 bushes.  Considering that I have three more bushes that will start producing next year and plans to plant 3-5 more, we should have plenty of currants for years to come. 
Here is a Ben Sarek currant (not a tasty variety) shrub that I transplanted to the front yard near the bird feeders.  Since these weren't very tasty I'll leave them unnetted every year and let the wild birds snack on the fruit.  As far as currant varieties go, I recommend Red Lake and Titania, both very tasty, and I would shy away from Ben Sarek.  Currants are also amazingly tough and hardy bushes.  I mangled, and I mean absolutely butchered this poor bush (and one other during transplanting) and a month later, they looked great.  Today, three months after my attempted shrub-murder, both look like they never missed a beat.  

Anyways, sorry for the tangent.  Back to the jam!!  I've already gone way overboard with too many words (500 words already?!?!?), so let's get to the jam recipe. It really was easy to make, less than 2 hours for the whole process.

Here is your ingredient line up:
  • 4 cups red or black currants
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 6 cups red or black raspberries
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
It doesn't matter what color of currants or raspberries you use, though admittedly, the combination of both red currants/raspberries, or black currants/raspberries does look especially visually striking. Whatever color of berry you choose to use it will still taste great.

Cooking Directions:
  • Wash currants (you don't need to de-stem) and place in sauce pan with water.
  • Stirring frequently, bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Press through chinois or other strainer to get just currant juice and pulp.
  • Add the currant juice/pulp, raspberries and sugar to a large stock pot.
  • Stirring continuously, slowly bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Keep at a full rolling boil for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the jam reaches the gel stage.
  • Remove from the heat and ladle into sterilized canning jars.
  • Seal jars and boil in a water bath for 5 minutes.
  • Remove from water bath and allow to come to room temperature.
This recipe took us under two hours to complete, it's pretty simple. In no time at all you can have jars of deep, richly red hued raspberry currant jam. There's no better way to alleviate those winter blues than by cracking open a jar of delicious summer flavor to add to your favorite bread, scone, or peanut butter and jelly sandwich.


Anonymous said...

John- that doesn't sound like nearly long enough sterilization time. Are you sure about that?

El Gaucho said...

Yup. That's what the recipe called for. Since the jam was already at a boiling temperature (hot pack), it doesn't need to be in the water bath as long. Granted I still was over cautious and ran the boiling water bath for more like 10 minutes.

Karen said...

Ah, currants......we used to have bushes and bushes of them at home back in the day. I think ours must have all been the sour one you wrote of, though. Very, very tart! Our neighbor made the best currant wine from them. Jugs and jugs of it, lol.

Thank you for the tip on freezing the berries flat first and then transferring so you don't get a lump. Great idea. There is nothing store-bought to compare to homemade raspberry jam.

Donna@GWGT said...

Sounds good, but I am lucky to have a Mother-in-Law that does this for me. She keeps us well supplied.