By Karen Yates, Melrose Depot
A friend told me about a wonderful raspberry and currant jam that her grandmother used to make. I pieced this recipe together from several currant-containing confitures I found in my collection of vintage cookbooks. It was a bit tart for my taste; when I tried a second batch, I used 5 baskets of raspberries, 3 baskets of currants, and increase the sugar to 1 cup per cup of puree. I preferred the sweeter, raspberry-heavy version, but when I mailed a jar of each to my friend she said that the first one was a dead ringer for her Grandma’s.
Making jam without powdered pectin is not as hard as I’d though it would be. After my first few attempts, though, I realized that I was cooking the jam for too long. Be sure to start checking for the jellying point* about 5 minutes of boiling after you’ve added the sugar.
- Red raspberries
- Red currants
- A large pot, at least 6 qt in volume, ideally with a heavy bottom
- Half-pint canning jars and lids, washed and prepared for processing
- Use equal amount (by weight or volume) of raspberries and currants. For my first batch, I used 2 lbs of each fruit, or four baskets.
- Wash and drain the currants in a colander – no need to remove them from the stems. Place a layer of currants into the pot and crush lightly using a potato masher or spatula. Repeat until all the currants are in the pot. Turn the heat on and bring the currants to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes.
- Rinse and drain the raspberries and add them to the pot. Bring the fruit to a simmer again and cook for another 15 minutes or so. Turn off the heat.
- Working in batches, put the cooked fruit through a food mill or strainer. I used a vegetable strainer attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer, but you could use a handheld food mill too – just be sure that the mesh is fine enough to remove the currant seeds and stems (some raspberry seeds will get through no matter what you do). Transfer the strained puree to a bowl as you work.
- Measure the puree and return it to the pot. Calculate how much sugar you will need: ¾ cup of sugar per cup of puree. (For example, when I used 2 lbs of currants and 2 lbs of raspberries, I ended up with 5 cups of puree. So I measured out 5 x ¾ = 3-3/4 cups of sugar). Put the sugar in a large bowl and set it next to the stove.
- Turn the heat on medium high and bring the puree to a boil; let it boil for 5 minutes. Add the sugar all at once and stir well; keep stirring until the mixture comes to a boil again. Reduce the heat slightly and let it cook. Start testing for the jellying point after 5 minutes.
- When the jam is ready, turn off the heat. Pour into clean, hot half-pint jars, seal, and process in an open kettle for 15 minutes. Remove the jars from the kettle and let them stand, undisturbed, overnight. Check the seals and store any unsealed jars in the refrigerator.
*There are a few ways to do this. I prefer the sheet test method, because it’s quick and easily done while you stand at the stove.