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redcurrant jelly

Updated: Tue, 19 July, 2022

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Making my redcurrant jelly is easy: no need to wait for an overnight drip of juice, you can speed it up by squashing the pulp. And did you know that currant jelly can be as expensive as caviar?

redcurrant jelly cuisinefiend.com

Bar-le-Duc confiture de groseilles is a French currant preserve, indigenous to the town of Bar in Lorraines, somewhere between Reims and Nancy.

One tiny jar of the confiture costs 20 euro and it is also known as le caviar de Bar. What’s special?

Jelly or jam?

The reason why currant jam is not as hugely popular as, say, strawberry is the pips. You can presumably mash the currants and de-pip them by pressing through a sieve, like you do (pointlessly, in my view) raspberries for seedless jam.

But red, white and all kinds of currants have softer seeds and so you generally lose the fruit along the way to smooth perfection.

Jelly is the answer then, dripping juice slowly then crystallising into a semi-solid with a little help from copious amounts of sugar.

homemade redcurrant jelly with balsamic and cranberries cuisinefiend.com

Bar-le-Duc redcurrant jelly

But the good people of Bar le Duc, originally monks of the local order are not the faint-hearted. They make their jam – confiture – from whole, specially selected white or redcurrants, handpicked, blemish free.

They also like them whole, as you do in posh confitures; suspended, like flies in amber, in delightful syrup/jelly made from currant juice. Pips don’t bother them? Au contraire, they remove them.

One by one. By hand. With a fine goose quill. From each single currant.

the best homemade condiment is redcurrant jelly cuisinefiend.com

No wonder it's pricey

It would be awe-inspiring if it wasn’t totally bonkers; but the Maison Dutriez, the only surviving producers of the old style confiture, count Mary Queen of Scots and Alfred Hitchcock among the fans of the preserve so perhaps the thing is indeed mind-blowing?

Don’t know, haven’t tried but sure will do next time I’m around Lorraine and have twenty euro spare.

quick and easy redcurrant jelly cuisinefiend.com

Redcurrant jelly with a bit of chilli

Mine is not such a high horse; I do not reach for my quill nor pick the pips out with a miniature syringe (there’s a thought).

I add a few dried cranberries to the mix which pretend to be de-seeded currants but in spite of that I won’t be able to flog it for 40 euros.

I also add a pinch of heat in the shape of ancho chilli flakes. Like sweet and salty, sweet and spicy go together like yin and yang.

Redcurrant jelly is incredibly awesome on a lamb roast or a turkey pie. But it is also the secret ingredient that makes the absolutely best gravy - try next time and see what I mean.

How to make redcurrant jelly

Like with all jellymaking, it starts with boiling the fruit with some water. It will take only about ten minutes before the currants soften and you can help them along by squashing gently with a wooden spoon.

cooking redcurrants cuisinefiend.com

Jelly apparatus is a muslin or stronger fabric bag suspended on metal prongs set over a bowl. It is easy enough to construct such rig by placing a colander lined with muslin over the tallest pan you have, so that there’s enough clearance between it and the bottom of the pan, for the juice to drip freely.

A more professional version will involve layers of muslin cloth with their corners tied around a chopstick or a long-handled spoon, again propped across the top of a tallest pan. You can make a pan taller by perching a cake tin ring over the top.

Make sure such scaffolding is reasonably secure for the hour it takes for the fruit pulp to cool and drip away. Especially if there’s a cat in the house – they love finding out what happens when contraptions like that are lightly nudged with a paw.

The gospel of jelly making is to let the juice drip overnight without squashing the bag in order to obtain clearest jelly. It’s hogwash: I squash and twist and squeeze and as in the images, my jelly is not cloudy in the slightest.

Once you’ve got the last drip out of the bag, it’s jamming as usual. The mix of the juice, sugar, some cranberries and a drop of vinegar needs about twenty minutes of rolling boil, until it reaches the temperature of 105C or a blob dropped onto a freezing cold plate sets to look and feel like jam.

cooking redcurrant jelly cuisinefiend.com

Jar it up in sterilised jars and let it mature for a few days before sampling, when it turns out you wish you’d made three times as much…

More jelly recipes

Pomegranate jelly is extremely flavoursome and great with panna cotta or with Greek yoghurt. My personal favourite: pomegranate jelly and cream cheese on a rice cake.

Greengage jelly with chilli and rosemary is a full of flavour, unusual condiment. It’s a cross between greengage chutney and plum jam and it’s perfect with lamb.

The most gorgeous thing made from foraged produce is bramble jelly. Go raid the hedges!

More fruit preserve recipes

Cranberry ketchup is a sweet, sour and salty condiment with a festive tang, excellent with roast meats instead of the usual cranberry sauce.

Quick and simple glace cherries recipe: make your own candied fruit. They will last for a couple of weeks in a jar. Joking, of course – they’ll never last that long…

Lovely with cheese or charcuterie, fresh fig confit, with whole chunks of figs in syrup made with port or madeira wine.

jar filled with redcurrant jelly cuisinefiend.com



redcurrant jelly

Servings: makes 1 small jar, about 200mlTime: 2 hours

INGREDIENTS

  • 125g (4 oz.) redcurrants, with stems
  • 100ml (½ cup) water
  • a pinch of ancho chilli flakes
  • 3 cloves
  • 130g (4 oz.) caster sugar
  • 1 tsp white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp dried cranberries


METHOD

1. Place the redcurrants in a small saucepan with 100ml water, a pinch of chilli flakes and the cloves. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 10 minutes, squashing the currants with a wooden spoon, until completely soft.

2. If you have a jelly bag, use it according to the instructions. Otherwise place a colander over a tall pot or jug. Make sure there is enough clearance between the colander and the bottom of the pan, so the juice can drip freely. Additional scaffolding using a cake tin ring or something similar might be useful. Line the colander with a layer of muslin.

3. Pour the fruit into the bag or muslin cloth and leave to cool completely, about 1 hour.

4. Squeeze the remaining juice out of the bag by twisting it lower and lower; take care not to burst it. Pour the juice back to a saucepan. Add the sugar, vinegar and dried cranberries and bring to a vigorous simmer. Let it cook for about 20 minutes until the temperature reaches 105C – or a blob dropped onto an ice cold plate sets to jam/jelly consistency.

5. While the jelly cooks, wash a small jam jar, kilner or lidded, in hot water. Place it in an oven heated up to 120C and immediately switched off.

6. When the jelly is ready leave it to slightly cool down, about 5 minutes. Carefully fill the jar, close it tightly and leave for at least a few days to mature before eating.

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Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Karin - I love it too, on toast or bread and butter, though in the UK it's more popular as a condiment with roast meat. And if you add a spoonful of redcurrant jelly to pan juices, you'll get the best gravy ever!
3 years ago
Karin E. Tkachuk
Did you say they charge $20 dollars for a jar? That is crazy! We made it at home all the time, and as you said, let it drip and make Jelly. I have been looking for it high & low since my red current berries were eaten by the birds, faster than they ripened. I would have made my own Jelly or Jam. Current berries are available in red, (we had those), white (very mild & I loved to eat them), and black. The black ones are hardy and my mother made Schnapps from them or jam. They are a little strong flavored as a jam, but it is suitable for some dishes. I ate it on my buttered German bread and liked it too. ….. Thanks for the article! ….. KT
3 years ago
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