The last couple of weeks I have been terribly distracted and I can only apologise for this.
I am back in the South at the moment as the greatest distraction, and the best thing since sliced bread, was my best friend’s wedding on Tuesday! We’d been planning this day for the last ten years, a lot longer than she had known her new husband and all of these hopes, dreams and outlandish plans were realised on Tuesday. It was truly the most wonderful day and a tear or two were shed. I have included here a photo of the new Mrs O’Brien and me from the day because every time I look at it, I feel so proud of her for being such a beautiful bride.
So that’s why there’s been so few posts but I’m back now and raring to type!
I went down to the canes to pick some raspberries the other day and as I walked past I noticed that the redcurrant bushes were dripping with fruit. The blackcurrants have rather come to the end but their less popular, prettier cousins were at their absolute peak. With this in mind, I decided to make redcurrant jelly.
I adore redcurrant jelly. I use it like some people use tomato ketchup. I think it goes with and in nearly everything. I prefer it to cranberry sauce with roast turkey, I like it instead of chutney with cheese and I like to stir great chunks of it into stews and gravies. There’s that wonderful tartness from redcurrant jelly but you still get the sweetness (and having now made it and seen the size of the sugar bags involved, I can see why!
These two for 4 kilos of currants.
I had been put off jelly making from the sheer exhausting business of leaving the jelly to strain overnight and then reboiling it the next day. I found this, frankly, quite dull and it meant I had to dedicate two evenings to it. I also broke the fundamental rule of jelly, you must never ever squeeze the straining bag. Apparently, it makes the jelly cloudy – I don’t entirely see this as a negative and think I’d quite enjoy cloudy jelly but you’re not allowed to do it. EVER. And I’m telling you, there is nothing in the world more tempting to touch, squeeze, squish, stick your fingers in than a hanging bag of jelly straining. The last time I made jelly was with quinces and it was the most delicious thing in the world but it was cloudy. The frugal side of me decided that I couldn’t possibly waste all of the liquid still in the quince pieces so I squeezed and I squeezed and it was the greatest crime in the jelly world.
My love for redcurrant jelly outweighed this though and I thought if I wandered off and got distracted during the straining part of the event then I would be less likely to want to squeeze. I walked down to the canes to pick the redcurrants and ended up with about 4kg which is a lot in the normal every day world but I wanted to make a lot of jars.
To make this you will need a straining bag, these are available from Lakeland and Amazon and don’t cost vast sums of money. The one I used took my mother and I hours to construct as we couldn’t work out where the pieces of metal were supposed to fit but Lakeland appear to have discontinued this version and created a much more sensible one that doesn’t have loads of pieces of weirdly shaped metal.
I have named this ‘glitzy’ because the light shining through the jar shows the most wonderful ruby colour red but you don’t have to be so giddy!
Eleanor’s Glitzy Redcurrant Jelly
- 4kg fresh redcurrants with their stalks still on
- 4 litres of water
- indeterminate amount of caster sugar (ultimately about 4 kilos)
- Tip all of the redcurrants, stalks and all, into a giant saucepan with a good flat bottom, this is important for boiling!
- Add the water and boil the fruit, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes until the colour has drained and the fruit is well mashed. (you can use the back of the wooden spooon to mash the juice out of these)
- Leave to cool.
- When cool, construct the strainer over a pan or large bowl and tip the fruit and liquid into the straining bag. Leave this to drip throughout the night
- The next day, when the straining bag has stopped dripping, measure out the liquid into a jam pan.
- For every 600ml of liquid, measure out 450g of caster sugar. (I had 5.4l of liquid so needed 4050g of sugar! I will admit that I found this bit stressful because I can’t count!)
- Add the sugar to the liquid and bring to a rolling boil (when the liquid rolls into the centre of the pan like a whirlpool)
- Allow the mixture to boil for 20 minutes before checking for a set with a saucer taken from the freezer. (For instructions on how to test a set, check here: https://thegirlwiththewoodenspoon.wordpress.com/2010/09/12/strawberry-fields-forever/, there’s also information about jam jars etc!)
- When the jelly has reached setting point, pour into your sterile jars and seal.