Sunday, 5 August 2012

The Joy Of Summer...Currants!

The great thing about Facebook is that you can keep in touch with friends you may never meet or see on a regular basis.  Last Sunday was my birthday and due to circumstances I spent the day alone.  There is nothing wrong with that scenario.  I certainly remember my party days but sometimes quiet is good.  Anyway I received several birthday wishes on Facebook including one from my friend Deb.  She referred to me as “her oldest friend (not in years)”.  It is true we go way back to age five.  When I moved to the country to a hobby farm, she lived across the road on a really large vegetable, fruit and flower farm.

It’s funny how we remember the strangest little events.  Deb and I were out at her red currant bushes on a hot summer day.  Her Mother, who was originally from Edinburgh, always had some sort of   biscuits, that day she gave us some saltine crackers for a snack.  Deb showed me how to pick the juicy red berries and quickly squish them between two crackers.  Delicious!  On that day I was sold on currants. 

My Mom got a red currant bush and made jelly every year.  What a delightful spread on toast or in between the layers of a homemade cake.  When I had my own home I also grew red currants for jelly.    Here is my recipe for a no cook jelly combining currants and raspberries.

Red Currant and Raspberry Jelly

The balance of the fruits is the most important first step to making this jelly.  The red currants are high in pectin, the ingredient that makes the jelly set, whereas the raspberries have very little.  Buy organic berries or your jelly may fail to set due to modern soft fruit cultivation and artificial ripening processes.  Both can cause unusual results.

2 lb raspberries
4 lb red currants
3-4 lb granulated sugar

Wash and clean the currants the best that you can.  If you have picked them yourself they will have irritating little green stems.  At some point you may get tired of trying to remove every one of them. So don’t.  Combine both the currants and the raspberries in a bowl.  Mom used a potato masher and so do I to crush the berries.  Pour the fruit mixture through a fine sieve, into a bowl, to extract the juice.

Weigh the juice and for every pound add 1 ½ lb of sugar.  Stir the sugar into the juice until the sugar is totally dissolved.  This could take ten minutes or more.

Pour the mixture into small sterilized jars, and then put on the lids and rings if you are using regular canning jars. If you live where you are guaranteed eight hours of continuous sunshine put the jars outside for that period of time, take inside, and repeat the next day.  If sunshine is not available put them on a tray into a low temp oven for eight hours.  Let them set. 

If for some reason the jelly doesn’t set don’t throw it out.  Save it, refrigerate it, and use it as sauce on vanilla ice-cream. It makes for a nice Christmas dessert.

It is my hope that the younger reader’s out there will try to keep some of these traditional recipes going.  Sure it’s easier to buy mass produced but by making your own you know what is in the product.  There is something very satisfying when someone asks you where you got your jelly and you say, “It’s home-made!” 

Inside myself is a place where I live all alone, and that's where I renew my springs that never dry up. 
Pearl Buck

1 comment:

Teri Flatley said...

Gloria, this sounds really good. Thanks for sharing. And a happy belated birthday to you!