Monday, July 20, 2009
I repeat myself when under stress...
Didn't I just post a bowl full of juicy red, ripe berries? Ah, yes - but those were cherries. These are currants.
The red currant grows on low, woody shrubs and can bear light fruit one year, and be prolific the next. Guess which one this was? We have one little bush in our yard which yielded 6 cups, & I could still go back to pick another big bowlful! These little red gems (about the size of a pea) are super sour and pack lots of pectin, which makes their juice ideal for jelly. The flavor is closest to a tart raspberry.
Currants grow in tiny clumps and are nearly impossible to pick individually. You can try stripping the berries off the branch, which results in a juicy mess. Or, you can just use a scissors to clip off the clusters of berries.
It's easy to make the juice needed for jelly. No need to remove the stems. Simply wash the currants and place in a large saucepan. Add 1/4 cup of water to 6 cups of currants. Mash lightly to release the juices and simmer over medium heat until berries reduce to a pulp. Strain through cheese cloth and you end up with a sparkly red - albeit TART - liquid. Make jelly according to directions found in any canning cookbook. I freeze the juice now, and make the jelly in late summer or early fall when it's cool outside and I have a long weekend to spend in the kitchen.
We use the jelly in sauce and glaze recipes for roast pork tenderloin and ham. The sweet-tart flavor really accents the meat nicely. And it's yummy in good ol' PB&J sandwiches, too.