About three years I planted two redcurrant bushes in the garden. Nothing much came of them for the first year which wasn't much of a surprise. Last year I got a few redcurrants off one plant but nothing more than what could be used as a garnish. The other plant seemed to have some currants on it as well but they didn't seem to be ripening. It was then that someone pointed out to me that this was probably a whitecurrant bush and not a redcurrant one. I checked the tag on it and the variety should have been a redcurrant but on closer inspection it was indeed a whitecurrant. The perils of buying cheap plants at the supermarket. You can tell if a currant bush is a whitecurrant as the fruits when they ripen look like ghost berries with the seeds visible through the outer skin.
This year the yield has been much better but of course this is also the first year of us having an allotment plot which has some huge redcurrant bushes on it. In fact at the weekend there was so many redcurrants to pick I ran out of space in the basket.
Back home I decided to strip what was on the two bushes in the garden. You can make redcurrant and whitecurrant jelly in exactly the same way and it's fine to mix them together. If you have a lot of whitecurrants in with the redcurrants you'll get a lovely rosé colour to the jelly.
Equipment: Large high sided saucepan, wooden spoon, jelly strainer stand, jelly bag or muslin square, large glass jug, 2 small plates/saucers, freezer, jam thermometer (optional), around 5-6 standard sized jam jars and lid.
5½lb (2.6kg) Redcurrants (and whitecurrants if you have any) including stalks
1½ pints (860ml) Water (Formula is 300ml water to 900g currants so 2600/900 x 300 = 860 rounded down)
550g Granulated sugar for each 600ml of liquid. I had 2200ml so used 2kg of granulated sugar (2200/600 x 550 = 2000g rounded down)
1. Wash the fruit thoroughly discarding any leaves, unripe or over ripe fruit.
2. Put the fruit into the saucepan and add the water.
3. Bring to the boil and mash the fruit lightly to help extract the juices. Reduce to a simmer.
4. Cook for about 30-45 minutes making sure the fruit doesn't burn.
5. Set up your jelly strainer and put a glass jug underneath.
6. Spoon some the fruit and juices into the jelly strainer. Add small amounts until all the mixture is in the strainer.
7. Leave to strain for a couple of hours at least. Do not be tempted to squeeze the bag as this will result in a cloudy jelly.
8. Check the volume of liquid and calculate the amount of sugar required.
9. Put the plates or saucers into the freezer.
10. Ensure the jars are clean and dry. Put into the oven to sterilize at 120°C/Gas mark ½-1.
11. Pour the jelly liquid back in the large saucepan (ensure no bits remaining in the pan) and bring to the boil. Add the sugar and stir gently to dissolve.
12. Keep at a rolling boil for about 10-12 minutes and then try the setting point. If using the thermometer this should read about 104ºC/220ºF.
13. Take one of the plates out of the freezer and drop a small amount of the liquid onto the plate. Push it with the spoon and if it wrinkles and moves it is ready to bottle. If not keep boiling and try again in a minute.
14. Quickly take the pan off the heat and take the jars out of the oven (remember it will be hot!).
15. Pour jelly into the jar. Skim any scum off the top. Put the lid on immediately to ensure that 'pop' when first opened.