18 June 2010


as mentioned before, we are in the throes of summer berry picking, which also means canning. so far we have done two batches of mulberry jam, a mixed batch of serviceberry jam and sour cherry preserves, and most recently, red currant jelly. last year, i was impressed with the sparkle of the crab apple jelly, but the currants take the cake when it comes to beauty.

my photography skills are not adequate to capture the crimson glow of these lovelies, as they drip from the branch in grape-like clusters. the red is so red, and the translucence makes them seem somehow magical.

cosmo preferred frisbee golf to currant picking, but it sure made him thirsty.

i love the taste of a red currant, and certainly prefer them to the black currant for flavor, but they are a bit tart for most people's tastes, and thus, should be treated with sugar. i am still learning about how to make jams and jellies that feature the unique flavor of the particular fruit, but often they just end up tasting like fruity sugar.

we used the jelly bag this time, instead of the the victorino strainer, because i didn't want to take a chance on the juice being cloudy.

i use pomona's pectin, so that i can use less sugar, and that helps. with the currants, they have enough of their own pectin, so no need to add any, but i was hesitant to deviate from the recipe for fear that it would taste too sour, or worse, not jell as it was supposed to. when i use the pomona pectin, i just follow the recipe on the box, which has very short cooking times, and requires no "jell test." it almost always turns out just right. but with the currant recipe, i had to do do a jell test to find out if it was ready. this involves dipping a cold spoon into the cooking jelly, and then watching the drip, to see if it forms two drops than run together, and then break off in a sheet. i find this process maddening. i had to do it over and over and over again, forever cleaning spoons, putting more in the freezer, testing, freezing, testing and all the while constantly stirring the bejeweled boiling liquid. finally i got something that sort of fit that description, and i turned off the heat and poured the stuff into the jars. all that boiling, and i was left with just less than four small jelly jars.

four small, glistening, gorgeous, jelly jars, that is. that taste mostly like fruity sugar. but have ya ever seen a red like that, with NO food coloring added? (okay, well, imagine it a deeper, richer, more vibrant red than what is showing up here. i promise you, it is an astonishing shade of red.)

we are fast approaching peak black raspberry season. there are more berries to be picked, and more jammin' in store for this household. what's ripe where you are?


FinnyKnits said...

Firstly - I'm jealous of your currants - gorgeous! They look super delicious. Of course, if I were harvesting them, I'd have a really hard time not popping them since they look so, well, poppable. But, enough of my crazy.

Secondly - I think you nailed my potato issue! I looked around the innernets for photos of the potato lifecycle and don't you know that I came across this post and photo of a potato plant that looks exactly like my shitty looking potato plant except that it's not shitty. It's ready! Or, nearly so.

At least I think it is. These photos are the most like what I'm seeing in my garden, so I'm hoping that rather than croaking from a horrible disease, they're actually ready to give me potatoes.

That would be awesome!

Anyway, thank you for the suggestion. Until I see otherwise, I'm calling you right.

mep said...

I can think of worse things to eat than fruity sugar, especially fruity sugar that looks so beautiful!

The jell test sounds like something I would absolutely not have the patience or culinary confidence for.

I made some strawberry jam last summer. It was definitely a fruity sugar endeavor but boy was I proud of myself!