Imogen is from West Dorset, UK. Her favourite subjects are the environment, gardening, and vegetarian food.
Blackcurrant jam is one of the easiest jams to make, as the skin of blackcurrants is so high in pectin that you don't have to add any extra and will always set if you use the ingredients and method described below. Delicious served with fresh crusty bread and butter. Plus it comes with a glorious taste and smell that is reminiscent of long-gone summers.
- a large saucepan
- wooden spoon
- straining bag (optional - for making blackcurrant jelly)
- enough sterilised jam jars to hold your finished jam (this recipe makes 5 one-pound jars of jam, or up to 3 jars of jelly)
- 2 lb fresh blackcurrants, washed and de-stalked
- 2 1/2 lb sugar
- 1 pint of water
- knob of butter (about half a teaspoon) (optional)
- Put the fruit and water in a large pan, and simmer until it is tender, then add the sugar and stir until it has all dissolved.
- Bring back to a rolling boil and boil rapidly for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure it cooks evenly. Blackcurrants have the most delicious smell when cooking!
- Meanwhile, prepare the jam jars for use. They should be sterilised and then warmed on a low heat in the oven—this prevents the glass from cracking when you pour in your boiling jam.
- Test for a set: take a little of the mixture on a teaspoon and drop onto a cold plate. Allow to cool and then push the jam across the plate with your finger - if a skin has formed your jam has reached setting point, but if it is still runny with no skin it needs to be boiled for a little longer. How long exactly depends on the pectin levels in your fruit, which can vary, so be patient, and keep testing every few minutes until you are convinced you have a set, then remove the pan from the heat.
- Add the knob of butter at this point, as it will help to clear the jam of any frothy residue.
- For jam containing the whole fruit, pour the jam directly into the prepared jam jars, filling all the way to the top, and cover immediately with waxed paper and tight-fitting lids.
- Alternatively, if you prefer a smooth jelly, with no bits in, pour the jam mixture through a straining bag or fine sieve, and get into the jars as quickly as possible. The mixture will start to set as soon as it cools down, so speed is of the essence.
- Wipe the jars clean once cold, as they will probably have got quite sticky while pouring out the jam, and label with the variety and date. This jam will keep for 12 months if stored in a cool place. Refrigerate once the jar is opened for use.
© 2011 Imogen French