Tart red currant jam that makes the most of these beautiful summer berries. Delicious on toast and perfect for making cookies in winter.
The red currant jam or redcurrant jelly is one of my favorite summer preserves. Not only because I love the spread as it is, on toast, but also because every time I make it I happily anticipate all those delicious cookies I can make in winter.
Red currant jam is the best one to use for cookies. It is tart and fresh and that balances the sweetness and tenderness of the cookies. Try these Thumbprint Cookies, the Spitzbuben, or this Linzer Torte, for instance, you will see what I mean.
What are currants?
They are a member of the gooseberry family. The most common sort are the red berries, but they also come in white and black. The white ones are very similar to the red ones when it comes to taste, the black ones are slightly larger and have a completely different flavor. If you can get some, try this black currant freezer jam, it is delicious!
Red currants are very common across Germany, they grow in many gardens in German villages, they are sold at farmer’s markets and in supermarkets as well. I don’t have a bush, but I rarely have to buy them either. There always seems to be someone asking me, if I want to pick some in their gardens every summer.
Red currants and sugar ratio
- The quantities are not important, use whatever you have.
- If you have to buy the berries and they are expensive, you can make a small batch. If you have one or two bushes in the garden and have tons of them, that is fine as well, make a huge batch.
- You will have to cook the berries first, pass them through a sieve, and then weigh the smooth pulp that you will turn into jelly.
- Once you know how much berry pulp you have, you will know how much sugar you need.
- I had about 1200 g/ 2.6 lb berries. Once I cooked and strained them I was left with about 750 g/ 1.6 lbs puree. I mixed that with the exact same amount of sugar, a ratio of 1:1.
- The most annoying thing about working with red currants is removing the fine stems. It is not difficult, but it takes time.
- The best thing about this jam recipe is that you can skip that work.
- You will cook the berries, stems included, and remove the stems while you pass the berries through the sieve.
- Another benefit of cooking the still attached berries is that the stems also contain pectin and that helps with making the jelly.
- And speaking about pectin, you will definitely not need to add any commercial pectin, the red currants are naturally very rich in pectin, they do not need extra help to set.
How to make?
- Wash the currants. There is no need to dry them.
- Place them in a large pot. Add 250 ml/ 1 cup water or enough to cover the bottom of the pot. (1)
- Bring to a simmer and cook gently for about 20 minutes until they break down and are soft. (2)
- Stir from time to time.
- Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into another pot.
- You can pass them through a food mill as well if you happen to have one. If you don’t, a sieve will do the work as well. (3)
- Press the leftovers in the sieve lightly with the back of a spoon to make sure that you catch all the puree. (4)
- Weigh the puree. Place it into a large clean pot. (1)
- Add the exact same amount of granulated sugar. Mix well. (2)
- Cook on medium-low heat, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. (3)
- Once the jam boils, cook it for 4 minutes. (4)
- Skim off the scum.
- Ladle into sterilized jars.
- The amount of water is also not very important if you have fewer berries use slightly less water, if you have more, then use slightly more water. You need enough water to cover the bottom of the pot.
- When making jam or jelly I always make the jelly test, usually by dropping a little jam on a cold plate to see if the mixture sets. I let it on the plate for 1 minute or so, then nudge it with the finger. If the jam wrinkles, it is done. If it is still liquid, you can give it one more minute, then check again.
- While you do the checking, always remove the pot from the heat source, so that you don’t overcook the jam.
- I find this test quite unnecessary when it comes to red currant jam. The berries are so full of pectin that I never had any issues with it being done after 4 minutes of cooking time.
- If you are unsure, you can still make the test.
How to keep?
- The redcurrant jelly keeps for at least one year. I had it for longer and it was perfectly fine.
- You can keep it refrigerated, especially if you only made a small batch.
- If you make more, it is worth it to can the jam to make it safe for longer.
- You can do that in a water bath or in a canner. Process the jars for 5 minutes.
More easy jam recipes
Red Currant Jam
- 1,2 kg/ 2.6 lbs red currants Note 1
- about 250 ml/ 8.5 fl.oz/ 1 cup water Note 2
- about 700 – 750 g/ 1.5 – 1.65 lbs granulated sugar also note 1
- Wash the berries and place them in a pot. They should be still attached to the stems, don’t bother removing those. Add the water, it should be enough to cover the bottom of the pot.
- Bring to a simmer and cook gently for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the berries break down and are soft.
- Pass through a sieve (or use a food mill). Press the leftovers in the sieve gently with the back of a spoon to help release all the puree. Discard the stems and the seeds left in the sieve.
- Weigh the berry puree. Place it into a large pot and add the exact same amount of sugar. Stir well.
- Cook the jam, stirring often to help the sugar dissolve. Once the mixture comes to a rolling boil, boil for 4 minutes.
- Make the jelly test, if desired (note 3). Ladle the jam into sterilized jars.
- Can the jars, if desired (note 4).
- The quantities are according to you. Once you’ve cooked and strained the berries, weigh the puree and use the exact amount of sugar to make the jam, so a ratio of 1:1 red currants to sugar.
- The amount of water is also not very important, it should be enough to cover the bottom of the pan.
- Jelly test: place a small plate in the freezer before you start cooking the jam. After 4 minutes of cooking time, remove the jam from the heat. Drop a little jelly on the cold plate, wait for about 1 minute. Nudge the jam, if it wrinkles it is done. If it is still rather liquid, cook it for 1 more minute and check again.
- You can keep the jam in the refrigerator or can it in a water bath or canner for 5 minutes. After canning you can keep it in a dark cool place. It will keep for at least one year, probably longer.