Who Doesn’t Love Jam?
Few snacks beat jam on toast, and who can turn down a delicious jam tart? Blackcurrants are the ideal fruit to make this delectable dessert with. You will not need to add additional lemon juice or pectin, because their tangy taste and naturally high pectin levels are enough. These moreish summer fruits make the perfect jam! The following recipe is quick, easy, and will quickly become your favourite fruity preserve.
This year has been particularly good for blackcurrants, due to the warmer and dryer weather. This meant that bees, wasps and other insects pollinated the flowers on blackcurrant bushes in ideal conditions, giving the fruit all the flavours, we love so much. The warmer weather makes the fruits sweeter, which is perfect for jams. If you are lucky enough to have blackcurrants growing in your garden, set aside a portion for this stunning recipe. Blackcurrants also freeze very well. If there are simply too many blackcurrants to put into one jam concoction, throw them in the freezer for a rainy day.
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Nicola Simons, the founder of Single Variety Co, told Age Times: "Blackcurrant is one of our favourite jams to make. Full of pectin, it's very easy to achieve a good set, with no need to use jam sugar. But make sure you don’t cook the jam for too long otherwise it might end up too solid!
"Deliciously tart, we love to eat it on crumpets for an extra special breakfast treat."
If you do not grow your own blackcurrants, look around farmer’s markets and roadside shops for lovely fresh fruits.
This fabulous recipe only uses three ingredients, and you won’t have to add additional preservatives because of the natural qualities blackcurrants already have.
- 1 kg blackcurrants (2¼lb)
- 750 ml water 1½pt (3 cups)
- 1½ kg granulated sugar (3lb/6¾ cups)
- Preserving pan or large saucepan
- 3 Saucers or small plates or a cooking thermometer
- Spoon for stirring
- Sterilised jars for serving
- If you are not using a cooking thermometer, place the 3 saucers or small plates into the fridge to cool. This will make it easier for you to test that the jam is ready.
- Remove any stalks from the blackcurrants and wash the fruit by rinsing them under cold water.
- Add the blackcurrants and the water to the preserving pan or large saucepan. Bring the water to a simmer and cook until the blackcurrants are soft. This should take about 10 minutes, depending on your stove.
- Once the berries have softened, bring the simmering mix down to a lower heat.
- Add the sugar and stir until it has dissolved.
- Once the sugar has dissolved, turn the stove to a higher heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Boil the mix for another 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, test for a set. Here you can use your thermometer or your cooled saucers or plates.
- Using a thermometer, place the tip into the mixture. If the temperature is 105°C or 220°F, the jam has set.
- If you are using saucers or plates, take the cooled plates out of the fridge and place a teaspoon of the jam onto them. Place them back into the fridge for 5 mins. If the jam wrinkles when you push it with your finger, then it is ready to serve.
- Once the jars have cooled, place them in the fridge to keep them fresh.
Some Useful Tips and Tricks
You can make your jam chunky or smooth. If you want your blackcurrant jam to be smooth, use a potato masher before you bring the mixture to its final boil. The chunky fruit will give you bites of sweetness and flavour, but a smoother jam will combine these flavours nicely. The choice is yours!
For serving, use a wide funnel to spoon the jam into the jar. This will help to avoid a sticky mess on your kitchen counter tops. Also, remember that the blackcurrants will shrink when cooling. It is best for you to fill the jar as close to the rim as possible, to get the most out of your serving. Using your serving spoon, press down on the serving to make sure you get rid of any air bubbles in chunkier jams.
There are several effective ways to make sure you are using properly sterilised jars. Often, soaking the jars in boiling water is sufficient. However, if the jars once had something slightly stronger in them such as basil pesto, traces of these flavours may not be ideal for your blackcurrant jam. It is, therefore, better to sterilise them properly.
- Preheat the oven to 140℃ or 275°F
- Wash the jars with warm to hot water and washing up soap.
- Put the jars on a drying rack. Do not try them with a tea towel as these may contaminate your clean jars.
- Place the jars in the oven for about 10 – 15 mins to allow them to dry entirely and without contamination.
- To sterilise the lids of the jars, as well as the rubber rings if they have them, boil the lids in a pot or pan for 5 mins.
Always sterilise more jars than you think you will need for your final product. This will make the serving and bottling your black currant jam a lot easier.
For a more personal touch, cover your jars with pretty fabric over the lids of the jars. Cut a square of fabric that is approximately 15cm by 15cm and use string or an elastic band to secure the fabric over the top of the jar. This simple technique will make your jam jars look beautiful and make for great, personal gifts for family and friends.
We spoke to Anna from the Huntly Herbs blog, who told Age Times: "We make blackcurrant jam from our own homegrown organic blackcurrants every year, it's one of our first berry crops to be ripe every summer.
"A couple of tips I would add are that freezing fruit before making jam is often quite helpful because the cells in the fruit are broken down by freezing, which softens the fruit and releases some of the juice. This speeds up the cooking process and with jam, the shorter the cooking time, the less flavour is lost from the fruit.
"My second tip, especially for blackcurrant jam is to make sure the fruit is fully softened before adding the sugar, so that the texture of the skins is not too tough in the finished jam. You can test the skins with your thumbnail as they cook - remove a berry from the pan, let it cool for a moment and then press it with your thumbnail. Your nail should slice straight through the blackcurrant skin without meeting any resistance, if it doesn't, keep softening the fruit for a few minutes longer."
With this recipe and useful tricks, you can look forward to lovely blackcurrant jam on toast, fruit tarts and many more fruity summer treats!