Red currant jam
Red currants make a delicious jam that will have you thinking of summer even after the weather turns cold. Preparation is quick and simple: you strip the berries from their stems, cook them with sugar and pour into jars that you’ve sterilized in boiling water. No need for paraffin — just screw the lids on tightly, creating a vacuum, and your jam will be preserved for two years or more. The entire process takes no more than half an hour.
The key, of course, is choosing perfectly ripe berries. Just over a pound of red currants will make two jars of jam — for more, simply double or triple the recipe. As currants contain plenty of natural pectin, this jam will gel without the addition of store-bought pectin.
The second key element is jars with screw-on lids. No need to buy them — when you empty a store-bought jar of jam, remove the label under hot water and wash. It is ready to be used again. As for equipment, you will need a large pot for sterilizing the jars, another for making the jam, a large spoon and tongs. That’s it.
The quantities below will make 2 jars of jam that is slightly tart. If you’d like a sweeter jam, increase the amount of sugar to 2 cups (440 g).
1-1/8 pound (500 g) red currants
1-1/2 cup (330 g) white sugar
Rinse the currants and strip them from their stems. Place them in a pot large enough to hold at least double the volume of berries. Add the sugar. Stir gently. Allow to rest while you’re sterilizing the jars.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place a clean dish towel (tea towel) on the counter beside the pot. Remove the lids from the jars.
When the water boils, use tongs to immerse the jars. Set them in the pot sideways so that they partially fill with water, then set them upright (they do not need to be full to the brim). Place the lids in the pot. Boil for 10 minutes, then use tongs to remove the jars and lids, setting them upside down on the towel.
Now make the jam. Place the berries over low heat until the sugar has melted and they have released some juice. Stir to ensure no sugar is sticking to the bottom of the pot.
Turn up the heat to medium high. As the mixture comes to a boil, foam will form on top. Use a spoon to skim away any thick foam. You can ignore the thinner foam.
Have a clean plate standing by. From the moment the mixture boils, count 6 minutes. Spoon out a little juice and drop it onto the plate. Allow it to cool for 20 seconds, then tip the plate. If it holds more or less in place, the jam is ready. If it’s still quite liquid, continue boiling the jam for one more minute. Turn off the heat.
Immediately transfer the hot jam to the jars, leaving a margin of about half an inch (1 cm) at the top. Immediately screw on the lids — if the jars are too hot to hold, use a dish towel to pick them up. As the jam cools, a vacuum will form, and this will preserve the jam.
Once the jars have cooled, label them with the name of the fruit and the month and year of preparation. They may now go into the cupboard, ready to be brought out and served on buttered toast, fresh bread or croissants whenever the spirit moves.