Red Currant Jelly – A Small Batch

Red currant jelly

This recipe’s ingredients are scaled to yield about 2 cups of jelly. It has taken a few years (and a few crops of red currants) to find the successful ratio for my jelly. If you don’t get it right, you either end up with rubber or syrup.

Although I have lived in my house for over 40 years, it was only maybe 10 years ago that I found I had a red currant bush on my property. It was hidden at the front of a long cotoneaster hedge. My neighbor had taken care of the hedge ever since we moved in. So I didn’t notice the bush until poor old Ted died and my husband got tired of trimming it, leaving the job to me.

Red currants grow underneath the branches and are well hidden by dense foliage. So unless you are fooling around under the bush, you won’t see the currants. I was so excited when I discovered I had an edible crop on my property!

Being against added sugar in my food, I tried sweetening it for the first few years with stevia. But it seems you need sugar in this recipe to get the liquid to set. The proportion is important. If you use less sugar, you end up with a syrup. That is OK if you want to use it only in cocktails. But if you want a jelly, here is what worked for me.

Red currant bush

Red Currant Jelly
makes 2 cups

  • 1.5  pounds fresh red currants (about 4 cups, destemmed and rinsed)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3/4 cup white sugar per cup of juice you end up with
  • 2 tablespoons liquid fruit pectin
  1. Place the currants into a large pot, and crush with a potato masher or berry crusher if you have one.
  2. Add the water, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Strain the fruit through a jelly cloth or cheese cloth, and measure out 2 cups of the juice. You can press the berries and squeeze the cloth to get all juice possible. Squeezing doesn’t affect the clarity of the jelly with my currents. I added a little water to get the 2 cups I needed.
  4. Pour the juice into a large saucepan, and stir in the sugar. I added 1.5 cups because I had 2 cups of juice.
  5. Bring to a rapid boil over high heat, and stir until the temperature on a candy thrmometer reaches 120F (104C). The candy thermometer proved vital for my success. Well worth the price.
  6. Stir in the liquid pectin immediately. Return to a full rolling boil, and allow to boil for 30 seconds.
  7. Remove from heat and skim any white foam off the top. Ladle or pour into sterile jars, leaving space at the top. Wipe the rims with a clean damp cloth. Cover with sterile lids and rings.
  8. Process covered in a bath of simmering water for 10 minutes or the time recommended by your local extension for your area. It should keep in the fridge for a year. But if you’ve done it properly, it wan’t last nearly that long!

If yours is more like a syrup than a jelly, mix a tablespoon into a glass of bubbly white wine. You get a homemade kir! Or dribble some over ice cream or pancakes. I like mixing it with yogurt and fruit or drizzling it over sponge cake. Or I might put a small piece of cheese on a whole grain cracker and top it with a dab of red currant syrup. All delicious. Nothing is ever wasted in our house!

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