Redcurrant jelly

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Jars of home-made redcurrant jelly | H is for Home

July sees the start of our food harvesting and preserving season. Last week we made a delicious elderflower ice cream with our home-made elderflower cordial.

colander full of redcurrants picked on our allotment

This week, we’ve made some redcurrant jelly using a recipe from Cordon Bleu Preserving.

Washed redcurrants put into glass jars

We inherited half a dozen or so redcurrant bushes when we took on our allotment last year. On our last trip down there this week, the bushes were heaving with little red jewels.

Redcurrants cooked in lidded jars in the oven

It took the pair of us about two hours to pick about half of them. When we got home, we gave them a rinse – they barely filled our small colander!

Weighing sugar to make redcurrant jelly

Despite this, we kept back a couple of cupfuls (to go into a pie) before making rest into jelly… it actually made 8 jars.

Straining cooked redcurrants through a jelly bag

We know that redcurrant jelly is usually matched with lamb or game and a dollop or two can go into a gravy for extra flavour. We’ll have to look for some other good flavour matches…any ideas?

Redcurrant jelly
Ingredients
  1. Redcurrants
  2. 800g granulated or preserving sugar to each litre of juice made
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Instructions
  1. Gently rinse the redcurrants in a colander before carefully removing the stems and putting the fruit into Kilner jars
  2. Firmly cover the jars with lids before putting them in to an oven at 300ºF/Gas mark 2 until the juice has run well
  3. Remove from the oven carefully remove the lids and turn out the fruit into a jelly bag or muslin overnight
  4. Measure the juice and take the correct proportion of sugar
  5. Add the sugar to a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or jam pan and warm on a low heat
  6. In a separate pan, heat the juice to boiling point (but don't allow to boil)
  7. Add the juice carefully to the warm sugar stirring all the time until the sugar has dissolved
  8. Pour jelly at once into sterilised jars
  9. Allow to cool before screwing the lids on firmly
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Adapted from Cordon Bleu Preserving
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Gimme Five! Preserving tools

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selection of preserving tools

On our dog walk yesterday we picked elderflowers. Today I made our first batch of elderflower cordial of the year.

Elderflower cordial always marks the start of my preserving season. Good kit always makes the jam, jelly, pickling, or chutney-making process more successful. Here are a few preserving tools that I recommend!

  1. Swift stainless steel preserving pan: £59.96, Divertimenti
  2. KitchenCraft home made blister carded cooking thermometer: £5.99, Wayfair
  3. 24 assorted Kilner fruit jam labels: £2.50, John Lewis
  4. Preserves: River Cottage Handbook No.2: from £7.26, Amazon
  5. Ball® preserving starter pack: £19.99, Lakeland

Canned blackcurrants

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Colander of blackcurrants

I’ve preserved all our other allotment and foraged fruit in one way or another – raspberry jelly, redcurrant relish, rose hip syrup. I thought this time I’d give canned blackcurrants a go. Home canning (in glass jars that is!) is much more popular in the US than it is here in the UK, but I’ve always fancied giving it a go.

Canning, according to Wikipedia, “Is a method of preserving food in which the food contents are processed and sealed in an airtight container. Canning provides a shelf life typically ranging from one to five years, although under specific circumstances it can be much longer.”

Some websites I’ve visited say you need special equipment; a big stove-top canner – much like a pressure cooker – for starters. A jar rack, jar lifter, funnel… In practice, the only foodstuffs that need to be canned in a high pressure canner are meat, seafood, dairy and most vegetables (sweet tasting ones such as carrots, beetroot, sweetcorn, peas and beans). Fruit (which is what I’ll mainly be canning) and acidic vegetables can be done using the water bath method in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. It’s not absolutely necessary for them to reach the 116-130ºC temperature necessary for the first group of foods.

I used utensils I already had to hand. Aforementioned heavy bottomed pan. A jam thermometer to be perfectly sure the water bath got to the optimum temperature. A funnel to make sure the little berries didn’t bounce all over the floor and under the kitchen cabinets as I tried to pour them into the jars. A wire cooling rack to keep the jars from rattling against the bottom of the saucepan during boiling. A pair of tongs to lift the jars out of the hot water. Some vintage Mason-type jars with new rubber seals. It is important that jars are in perfect condition with no chips or ill-fitting lids. If they aren’t they won’t be air-tight and contents will spoil and may prove a health risk!

Here’s the method…

Canned blackcurrants

Canned blackcurrants

Ingredients

  • At least 500g freshly picked blackcurrants. Use only perfect fruit - no bruised, over-ripe berries need apply!
  •  
  • For the sugar syrup
  • 1 part sugar to 2.5 parts water (e.g. 200g granulated sugar to 500ml water)

Instructions

  1. Sterilise the jars & lids - you can do this by putting them into a large saucepan and covering them with water and bringing it to the boil. Once it boils, turn off the heat and leave them in the hot water until you're ready to use them
  2. Top & tail and rinse the fruit well in a colander
  3. Decant the fruit into the sterilised jars (using a funnel if you have one). Leave a space of about 2.5cm/1inch from the rim of the jar
  4. Put your sugar and water into a medium-sized saucepan over a medium heat
  5. Stir until all the sugar has dissolved. Turn off the heat
  6. Carefully pour the hot sugar syrup over the fruit - enough to completely cover the fruit but leaving a gap of 1.25cm/½inch to the rim of the jar
  7. Remove any air bubbles using a plastic or wooden knife (like the ones you get from a take-away)
  8. Screw the lids onto the jars firmly, but not too tightly
  9. Put a wire cooling rack into the base of a large heavy-bottomed saucepan (if you don't have one or the one you have doesn't fit - use a folded tea towel)
  10. Put the jars into the saucepan and fill the saucepan with enough hot water to completely cover the jars by at least 2.5cm/1inch. Make sure there's at least 5cm/2inches gap to the top of the saucepan; if there isn't you'll need a larger pan
  11. Put a lid on the saucepan
  12. Bring the water to a low, rolling boil. Once it gets to this point, boil at this level for a further 15 minutes
  13. Turn off the heat and carefully remove the jars using a jar lifter or metal tongs
  14. Put the jars on a thick tea towel or wire rack to cool. The lids on the jars should be concave and should not move when pressed down with your finger. If one of your jars has not formed a vacuum - just refrigerate and use it's contents within a week
  15. Label, date and store the jars in a cool, dry, dark place. The fruit will store for at least next year when you can do it all over again! 🙂

Notes

This recipe will work for any kind of similar fruit - redcurrants, white currants, bilberries, blueberries etc.

http://hisforhomeblog.com/food/canned-blackcurrants/

Spiced redcurrant & red onion relish

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Spiced redcurrant & red onion relish ingredients

Last week we brought you a sweet, baked redcurrant recipe. This week, some more of our redcurrants are being used in a savoury preserve – spiced redcurrant & red onion relish. We’ve slightly altered a recipe we found on the BBC Good Food website.

We’ve not tried out our relish yet – we’re giving the flavours some time to steep. It’s meant to be really good teamed with a creamy goat’s cheese or charcuterie.

Spiced redcurrant & red onion relish

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: makes 1 x 450ml jarful

Spiced redcurrant & red onion relish

Ingredients

  • 2 medium red onions, peeled & sliced into ½cm square pieces
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp dried crushed chillies
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 1 small knob of fresh ginger, grated
  • 200ml red wine vinegar (I used some of our home-made blackberry vinegar)
  • 140g muscovado sugar
  • 1tsp Chinese five spice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 200g redcurrants, de-stalked
  •  

Instructions

  1. In a heavy bottomed frying pan, cook the onions and dried crushed chillies in the olive oil over a medium heat until softened
  2. Remove from the pan and set aside
  3. Without washing out the pan, add the garlic and ginger with half the vinegar, bring to the boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes
  4. Add the cooked onion & chilli mix, sugar, Chinese five spice, salt and the remainder of the vinegar
  5. Bring back up to the boil then simmer for about 5 minutes until thickened
  6. Add the redcurrants and simmer for another 5 minutes, or until some of them have burst and the liquid has become syrupy
  7. Remove and pour into a sterilised, 450ml heatproof jar
  8. Screw the lid on tightly while still hot. Once opened, it keeps in the fridge for up to 3 weeks
http://hisforhomeblog.com/food/spiced-redcurrant-red-onion-relish/