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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Super Easy Currant Jelly

Our currant bushes finally put on enough currants this year that the kids couldn’t keep up with eating them all, so we had currants left to make some currant jelly.
This is super easy jelly to make and one of my favorite flavors because it’s a nice combination of tart and sweet.  Here’s what you’ll need:
red currants

  • Some currants–doesn’t matter how many
  • Sugar
  • A couple of pots (to cook the berries and the jelly–you really could use the same pot)
  • Strainer and/or cheesecloth/jelly bag for juicing the currants
That’s all.
To can it you’ll need jars, lids, rings, and a water bath canner.
First, pick and wash your currants.  I removed the stems, some people don’t.  If you don’t, you’ll need to skip the smashing step and go straight to the pot.
IMG 49383 300x225 Super Easy Currant Jelly
After your currants are washed, you can smash them or not.  In my brain I get more juice out of them if I smash them than if I leave them whole, so I smash them.  You can use a potato masher or run them through the pulse chop on your food processor.  I’m all for quick, so I chopped them.
IMG 4941 225x300 Super Easy Currant Jelly
Then, put the chopped currants in a pot and heat them up.  You can add just a little water if you want to thin it up a bit, but you don’t want to add too much.  If you didn’t take the stems off your currants, you’ll have whole currants plus stems in the pot heating up.
IMG 4942 300x225 Super Easy Currant Jelly
After the currants have cooked for a bit, it’s time to juice them.  You’ll need 3-4 layers of cheese cloth or a jelly bag or a tight strainer.  I didn’t have any cheesecloth handy, so I made a jelly bag from some not-so-tight weave muslin I had.  I’ll be re-making the bag to fit over my strainer and end in a point instead of a square bottom, but this one worked for this time.
IMG 4943 300x225 Super Easy Currant Jelly
Pour or scoop the cooked currants into your cheesecloth and suspend the bundle over a pot. Get creative here. I usually tie the bundle to a long dowel, but couldn’t find one this time. Prop it up on chairs or buckets–whatever you have around–and let it drip. If you want really clear jelly, don’t squeeze the bag. If you want a little more volume and don’t mind if your jelly is “cloudy”, squeeze the bag to get as much juice out as you can. I usually go for volume. Okay, I always go for volume. If you’re submitting your jelly to the state fair, go for clarity.
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Once you have your juice, discard the pulp left in the cheesecloth and measure the juice. (You can stop here for the night and put the juice in the fridge and start again the next day or the day after that if it happens to be way past your bedtime by the time the currants have juiced.)
Now you’ve measured your juice, put it in a pot with an equal amount of sugar. So 2 cups of juice and 2 cups of sugar or 7 1/2 cups of juice and 7 1/2 cups of sugar. Easy, right? You don’t need to add pectin because currants already have enough pectin in them to gel.
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Get your water bath canner set up with water in it and start heating it up so it will be ready to can the jelly when it’s done boiling. Put your lids in a little pot and warm them up also.
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Bring the jelly to a boil and then let it boil for 15 minutes. If you want to test it before canning it, put a little on a plate and stick it in the fridge to cool off. See if it sets up. It shouldn’t have any problem, but if it doesn’t set up, boil it a little longer and test it again.
IMG 49502 225x300 Super Easy Currant Jelly
When you’re ready to can it, ladle the hot jelly into your clean hot jars, wipe the rims and apply the lids. Put them in the canner and process 10 minutes.
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Pull them out and let them cool and voila! Super easy currant jelly to use on bread, breakfasts, meat, and whatever else you can dream up. Enjoy!
IMG 49651 300x225 Super Easy Currant Jelly