This is the first year I have managed to grow enough red currants to even consider the word jam. My redcurrant bush had been looking good, with lots of flowers. “What a great harvest I’m going to have!” I thought. Well, little by little, the green berries starting falling off. “It must be the birds!” was my first reaction. So on went the netting. The green berries turned to pink berries and continues to fall off and just lie on the ground. I never managed to work out what the problem was. In the end, fearing I’d have none left, I picked the remaining red berries. I weighed them out and wondered what I was going to do with 250 grams of ruby red gems.
The next day I was in my neighbour’s allotment pulling out 6 foot, unweidly and thorny chicory and teasel. I cleared a whole section, unearthing potatoes that had sprouted from last year’s tiny remains as I went. Nearing the end, I had just bent down to pull another teasel out at the root, when the glint of something red and shiny caught my eye. Hiding among the gigantic weeds was a small red currant bush. I cleared the surrounding weeds and discovered a small bush laden with tiny red berries. This was my reward for two hours of hard graft. The berries were smaller than my own, but they did surprisingly well considering how little light they must have had.
I weighed my new red bounty – 120g, bringing my total haul to 390g. Time to consult the cook books. Having found that two of my books agreed with each other on the process, I realised I didn’t have the minimum quantity of 500g. Never mind. I decided to use what I had to make a jelly. I boiled up the berries, added the sugar, boiled some more and then strained off the juice into a jar. I may have been a little ambitious with the jar size, but this was the first jar of jam I’d made from red currants I grew myself (with a little help from a hidden gem).
When I make jellies, usually bramble, I take the pulp and add it back into the pan with some boiling water and sugar and bring it back to the boil. I then restrain the mixture to have a hot fruity drink. It’s my cook’s treat. This time, as the sugar had been added before the berries had been strained, I was dealing with a stickier mixture. I got a full bottle of juice, semi concentrated, which I diluted half with water for a fruity cordial. Delicious!