Blackcurrant jam.


4lbs(1.814kgs) Blackcurrants (the pick of the crop)

6.614lbs(3 kgs) granulated cane sugar.

Enough water to cover the berries in the jelly pan.

Blackcurrants are very easy to grow. I have had many years of growing Ben Lomond variety and they consistently produce first class large berries of excellent quality. The making of blackcurrant jam is labour intensive but well worth the effort if made well. You must choose the largest and best of the berries for your jam and each berry must be topped and tailed. I usually pick a pail of berries when they are at their best stage of ripening. i.e. good enough to eat. I then sit and sort through the fruit and pick the very best of the berries and nip off the tails or stalks with my finger nails and nip off the tops and put them onto the scales and measure out  4lbs of fruit in a clean pail. The metric equivalent is 1.814kgs. I then fill up the pail with cold water and rinse them through to get rid of any excess tops which will float to the top and you can skim them off. I then transfer the clean berries to the jelly pan and just cover with cold water. Next you find an ovenproof dish big enough to take your three kilos of sugar and place it in the oven at a very low heat to warm the sugar. Your jars are already cleaned and sterilized at this point. So we bring the berries to the boil and simmer them gently for about ten to fifteen minutes stirring and breaking them open with the back of your wooden spoon against the sides of the pan. This is to soften the skins and release the colours and flavours and pectin for setting. When the skins are softened and the fruit well broken up remove from the heat and add your warmed sugar from the oven and stir it in until it is well dissolved. Now put your jars in the oven to warm and put three saucers in the fridge to cool. Return the pan to the heat and stir to make sure all the sugar is dissolved before you bring the mixture back to the boil. The boiling mixture will almost double in volume and for this reason you must have a large enough jelly pan to keep the mixture boiling rapidly for the 10 to 15 minutes it will take to reach setting point You must stay with it and check with your wooden spoon regularly to make sure it is always boiling and not catching on the bottom of the pan and burning. After 10 minutes try for setting by lowering the heat and taking a teaspoonful of the mixture and placing it on one of your saucers from the fridge. Push your forefinger through the spoonful of jam on the cold saucer and you will see it wrinkling very slightly on the surface if it has reached setting point. Blackcurrants are rich in pectin and you must be careful not to boil the jam too long as this will destroy the flavour and you will end up with the jam being far too thick. The wrinkle test is easy with a little experience and you must realise that the consistency of the jam during testing will still seem very runny but the wrinkles will be just visible on the shiny surface when you push through it with your finger. If the jam is not at setting point return to the heat and boil on for another minute and repeat the test until setting point is reached. Skim off the pink frothy scum from the top of the jam before pouring. Get your warmed jars placed in a good area where you can pour the hot jam without a mess being made if you over fill by mistake. It can sometimes be easier to fill the jam jars with an appropriate ladle if you are not confident at pouring. Leave the jam in a safe place where children cannot get near and cover the jars loosely with a clean tea towel until the jam has cooled completely, which could take till the next morning.

Jam making is a very dangerous job and should not even be attempted when there are children around or if you are not completely physically fit. A good jelly pan is essential for not only good results but for your own safety as it must have the correct handles. It's a heavy thing when full and a little skill is required when pouring hot jam into jars. You must make sure it is off the boil and avoid any splashing when pouring. It is better to under fill the jars the first time round and top them up later than to risk spillage. Even being careful you will still get tiny jops and it must be an activity where no distractions allow you to laps your concentration on the job at hand. The ladle method is probably a safer less messy option for the novice and if you don't make jam very often you don't really need to learn to pour.

More recipes.