Sunday, January 8, 2012

Small-Batch Red Currant Apple Jelly

Since I moved to the wild tropics (also known as Florida), I'm a bit thrown back at the endless summery season here. The great bonus, of course, is the abundance of local fruit and veg all year around.

I happened upon a couple of half-pints of red currants on offer at my local grocery store. I snatched them up and headed home to make the tart, versatile jelly that I love so much. Slather it on toast, croissants, or mix it with a bit of Dijon mustard and glaze some chicken breasts with it.

You'll find that the measurements don't require a certain amount of currants, but as long as you have at least a cupful, you can make enough of this ruby red jelly to last you for a week or so. This recipe doesn't require any additional pectin, it will softly gel thanks to the apple. The jelly is unprocessed, and is unsuitable for long-term storage.

Small-Batch Red Currant Apple Jelly

1 Granny Smith apple, unpeeled and grated
minimum 1 cup red currants, stems removed
1/3 cup water
granulated sugar

Prepare several layers of cheesecloth in a sieve, and place it over a liquid measuring cup In a nonreactive pan, heat the water, apple, and currants until it comes to a simmer. Gently crush the berries with a spatula or a spoon to encourage them to release their juices. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and scrape into the cheesecloth-prepared sieve. Allow to drain. Resist the urge to press the solids into the cheesecloth; this will result in cloudy jelly. If cloudy jelly doesn't bother you, of course, go right ahead and squeeze the last essence from the simmered fruit.

Measure the liquid. Wash out the nonreactive pan, and pour the liquid back into the pan. Add the same measure of sugar as there is liquid to the pan. I had a little under 3/4 of a cup, and added enough water to bring it to 3/4 cup. Have a couple of clean heat-safe glass containers (I use Pyrex 6 oz. custard cups, but feel free to use a proper canning jar). Heat the juice and sugar to a rolling boil, stirring. Keep an eye on it, as it does have a tendency to boil over. Once the mixture boils, time 5 minutes for a batch under 2 cups of liquid, and 10 minutes for a batch over 2 cups of liquid. Pour hot liquid into the glass jars, and allow to cool to room temperature. Cover and store in the refrigerator. Eat within a couple of weeks, if you can manage to make it last that long.

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