15 June 2011

deep in every currant bush a robber blackbird whistles

Never jam today? Perish the thought.

One pound of blackcurrants is not a lot, objectively speaking, but it's three times as much as I harvested last year, so you'll forgive me if I seem excessively proud of my little basket.

It was just enough to make a very small batch of jam.  Six 4-oz jars, and barely a drop more.

Jam Yesterday

This jam recipe was recreated from memory, based on something I am sure I read last year and could not find again to save my life.  It makes a chunky sort of preserve, properly jam, not a strained jelly.  I am not one of those people who dislike bits of fruit in their preserves.  For me the bits are the whole point.

Here's how it's done:

1 pound blackcurrants
1 pound sugar
2 cups water
1 cup blackcurrant leaves, cut in chiffonade
1 lemon (juice, zest, and pips)

Batterie de cuisine:  non-reactive pot, spoons, ladle, stainless steel mesh tea ballor cheesecloth, candy thermometer, canning funnel, tongs, canning jars and lids, large stockpot for processing.

Pick over the fruit and remove any large stems and bits of dead leaves.  Zest the lemon (I use a swivel peeler), juice it, and reserve the pips.

In a large non-reactive pot, put the sugar, water, blackcurrant leaves, lemon zest, and lemon pips.  I usually put the pips in a tea ball, but you could also tie them up in a bit of cheesecloth -- whatever will make it easy to scoop them back out.  Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until it reaches the 'jelly' stage on your candy thermometer, 220 F/104 C.

With a slotted spoon, remove the zest, leaves, and pips from the syrup.  Reduce the heat to medium, tip in the blackcurrants, stir, cover, and let simmer for 15-20 minutes.  After the fruit has cooked, stir again, mashing any berries that haven't popped with the back of your spoon or a potato masher.  Stir in the juice of the lemon.

Pack into hot jars and process in a boiling water bath for 10-15 minutes.  Remove jars from the hot water and allow to cool before checking the seals and storing.

Robert Ernest Vernède

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