Today I will be making this jam at the Rhinebeck Farmers Market, to demonstrate how easy it is to make a gorgeous jam from your local produce. If you see some black currants at your local market, I hope you try them out. They are an unassuming berry, that when allowed to shine reveal how very special they are. They’re like a good book–complex, deep, thoughtful. Don’t judge them by their cover!
Black Currant Jam
yield: A little over a half-pint
1.5 cups black currants (8 oz./220 g.)
1/4 cup water (1.7 oz./47 g.)
3/4 cup sugar (5 oz./150 g.)
1/4 of a medium-sized lemon, juice of
Basically, you want to buy one of those little green half-pint containers you see at the farmer’s markets and stands. Locally, Tousey’s sells them at the Kingston Farmer’s Market on Saturdays, and the Rhinebeck Farmers Market on Sundays. Their season is not long, so go out and buy some!
Clean the currants: Submerge them in a bowl of cold water so that all the leaves and loose sticks float to the top–remove this stuff. Then, drain them and spread them out on a cookie tray (with edges so they don’t roll away!) and remove as much of the stems as possible. The blossom ends are bumpy and still have some blossom on them. If they are big, I pick them off. Generally, I feel it all adds to the texture of the final product. Some folks like to put the currants through a food mill to have a smoother jam.
Cook the currants: Put them in a good jam pot, and add the water. Bring them to a simmer, and let them cook about five minutes to soften them. They will look glossy and beautiful. (This would be where you would want to pass them through a food mill, if preferred.)
Add the sugar and the lemon. Mix it all together; the sugar should dissolve quickly. Bring it back to a fast boil–don’t leave the pot! It will reach the gel stage quite quickly. It will bubble up high, then low, and the bubbles will be thick and glossy. A dip of a cold spoon will reveal thick drops that will slowly fall off the edges when done*.
Turn off the heat, let the jam settle for a moment until the bubbles subside. Then, ladle the hot jam into a jar using a funnel, and seal with a lid. It will keep in the fridge for at least a few months, provided you use a clean spoon when you use it!
*Note: This is the mystery of making jam–when is it done? If you make enough jam, you will know. In the meantime, if it’s underdone you will have a soft jam that will go great with yogurt. An over done jam will be stiff, maybe burnt, so an under done jam is preferable. If you are interested in learning more about jamming (and canning!), I will be teaching three classes starting in early September at Ulster BOCES in Port Ewen. You can email me at halfpintpreserves AT gmail DOT com so I can keep you informed of the details, or you can navigate to my canning classes page which will soon be updated.