Anticipating my impending “empty nest”, I began reducing the size of our vegetable garden a few years ago. The first year, I planted blueberry bushes in a large section of the garden. The next year, I put in black and red currant bushes. With children setting off across the globe, I no longer needed to grow food for a family of five, and instead, could treat myself to some amazing jam and desserts made with berries grown in my own garden.
Black currants, native to northern Europe, send woody stems up from the base of the bush. Every part of the bush, emits a complex aroma, unlike any other scent I have ever smelled. Little clusters of glossy black berries hang among the green foliage, weighing the stalks down until they nearly touch the ground. When ripe, the berries simply fall into your palm when harvesting.
Packed full of antioxidants and beneficial nutrients, black currants also contain more vitamin C than any other fruit. In Europe, the black currant has been used for centuries to treat various ailments. The leaves of the bush may be used to make tea, but it is the berry that is most commonly used in syrups, jams, candies, desserts, juices, and wine.
Today, I made some Black Currant Jam. Quite high in natural pectin, the berries make an excellent choice for homemade jam. It sets up quite nicely without additional pectin. The full bodied flavor of the berry perfectly balances the sweetness in the sugar, making it the jam of choice at our breakfast table, as everyone says, “pass the black currant jam please.”
- 8 cups of black currants
- 8 cups of evaporated cane juice
- 1-1½ cups water
- juice of one lemon
- canning jars and canner
- candy thermometer
- Wash and stem the black currants.
- Fill the bottom of a heavy stock pot with ¼ inch of water.
- Put the currants in the pot and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Cook until the skins begin to soften, about 10 minutes.
- Add the evaporated cane juice and juice of one lemon.
- Bring to a boil and insert the candy thermometer into the pot.
- Cook until the thermometer reads 220 degrees.
- While currants cook, begin heating the water in your canner. Boil the lids to your jars and sterilize the jars.
- Once the currant mixture reaches 220 degrees, ladle it into jars, wipe the rim of the jar and put the lid on.
- Process jars of jam in a boiling bath for 10 minutes at a high boil.
Your canning jars need to be sterilized before adding jam. You can sterilize them by boiling the clean jars for 10 minutes.
To prevent cracking, the jars should be warm when you add the hot jam to them.
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