Red Currant Jam

The red currants in my garden are a day or two away from perfectly ripe:

Fresh currants are a perfect example of why an urban garden is worth it: they never show up at supermarkets, rarely and in small amounts at farmers’ markets and CSA’s. If you don’t have a garden, don’t tune out yet. Currents do great in containers and fruit well on only a few hours of sunlight (maybe your fire escape, or is there a community garden nearby that you could get a plot in?).

What is a fresh currant like? Ruby red and jewel-translucent. Sharply tart, providing a nice contrast to sweet fruits and desserts. Freezes beautifully with no special pre-treatment required (and a handful of frozen fresh currants tossed over a dessert in winter will make you the hit of the party, trust me.)

James Mackinnon, one of the authors of Plenty, came up with a quick gooseberry salsa that would be just as good with red currants. Both gooseberries and fresh currants are as good in savory dishes as sweet.

But here is a classic pairing because they’re both ripe at the same time, Strawberry & Red Currant Jam. The currants provide pectin and the tartness that most strawberry jam recipes rely on lemon juice for (lemons don’t grow around here):

Strawberry-Red Currant Jam

2 parts strawberries, coarsely chopped

1 part fresh currants or gooseberries

2 Tablespoons water

Simmer, stirring often, until as thick as you like your jam.

Add:

Local honey to taste.

That’s it, unless you want to extend its shelf life, in which case either refrigerate for up to two months or process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Not sure what this is about? Read Getting Ready for the 250-Mile Diet and The Rules

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