Sunday, 26 August 2012

jam harvest & redcurrant three ways

redcurrant harvest blackcurrant jam cooking preserving ribizli befőzés szüret

redcurrant jam jelly secateurs metszőolló ribizli lekvár

There is a redcurrant bush in the garden where we are staying at the moment - it's been said that the harvest is left to the birds every year because the fruit is too sour and tangy. When I saw the heavy branches laden with fruit I thought the birds will have their share but this year I'll be filling a few jam jars with that ruby-red.

I love the look of the bunches with the shiny pearl-like berries - they have the prettiest colours even when not quite ripe.

sokszínű ribizli fürt redcurrant colours beads jam cooking

We've been having a very rainy August - the day of the harvest wasn't an exception either. There were rainbows during the quick downpours with big dollopy raindrops pierced by golden sunshine.

esőfelhő szüret közben raincloud over redcurrant bush

I sat in the redcurrant bush to  hide from the rain and to carry on with the berry picking. It was like sitting in a green tent adorned with ruby chandeliers everywhere - I get all poetic yes, but I really felt like a very lucky child.

redcurrants close up bush ribizli bokor szüret

sun illuminated redcurrants ribizlifürtök napsugár átvilágítva

There was a lot of quiet goings-on in the redcurrant tent - there were spiderweb hammocks and other little tenants like snails and tiny bugs.

pókhálók ribizli bokor tövében spiderweb in redcurrant bush

csiga ribizli levélen eső után snail on redcurrant leaf after rain

snail in redcurrant bunch csiga ribizli fürt

Then the day of the jam cooking came. I had a small amount of blackcurrant that I picked off a very sparse old bush - their wild forest taste gave me an idea to make differently flavoured batches of redcurrant jam.

I had about 3 kilos of currants and planned for two big half litre jars of each of the following (recipes and ingredients at the bottom of the post):

  • Plain redcurrant jam with blackcurrants
  • Christmas spiced redcurrant jam with orange peel, cinnamon and ginger
  • Redcurrant jelly with hot chillies 
befőzés lekvár főzés recept kellékei redcurrant jam preserving cooking jar recipe

I got busy with brewing the bubbling lava of jam but didn't get to record much of it. The light wasn't great in the kitchen so excuse the less than exciting pictures (plus the jars I bought turned out to have too bumpy a surface for my vintage redcurrant labels to stick properly...) .

But the cooking process was very exciting - there's something very satisfying about melting these nice berries into a scorching hot sauce of deliciousness while licking jam-coated wooden spoons.

It took me about 4-5 hours to cook the 3 different lots - the preparation time took almost as long, so I watched a couple of movies while picking the berries off their stalks.

redcurrant jam jar chilli christmas jelly ribizli dzsem lekvár befőtt chillis karácsonyi

The recipes:

- The cooking process is the same for all 3 variants of jam. Pick fruit off stalk before cooking.
- Preserving sugar has a natural jelling agent added like pectin or gelatin, for reduced cooking times. You can use regular sugar or raw cane sugar but you will need to cook the jam longer to achieve the right consistency.
- If your jar doesn't have metal parts (unlike mine) you can sterilize them in the microwave. Otherwise use boiling hot water rinses, let dry naturally and no wiping!
- These jam variations contain the seeds and skin of the currants and the other ingredient bits - you can strain your jam when cooked, put back on the heat to boil once more, then fill into jars for a smooth jelly.
- I looked at jam recipes online for inspiration - find the originals in Hungarian here, here and here

Plain Redcurrant Jam with Blackcurrants
1kg redcurrant
a few handfuls of blackcurrant
1.2kg preserving sugar
a small glass of hot water

Christmas Spiced Redcurrant Jam
1kg redcurrant
1kg preserving sugar
2 - 3 level teaspoons of cinnamon powder
the peel of 1 orange, cut into small chunks
the peel of 1 lemon, grated
thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
the juice of 1 orange

Redcurrant Jelly with Hot Chillies
1kg redcurrant
0.5kg preserving sugar
a small glass of hot water
small piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into thin strips
a couple of turns of the black pepper mill
1 red jalapeno chili - seeds removed, vein left in and sliced finely
(if your jalapeno is weak like in this country you can add 1/3 of a habanero chili for a proper kick, like I did)
  1. Take 200grams of the sugar and heat it in a big 3litre pot stirring with your clean untainted wooden spoon (couple of minutes).
  2. When it melted add the small glass of water/orange juice for the Christmas version and cook into a syrup, stirring continuously (5-10mins).
  3. Add half of the berries and cook until they start falling apart (5-10mins); stir steadily to help them along. 
  4. Then add the rest of the sugar and melt it into the fruit, stirring all the while (5-10mins).
  5. Then add the rest of the berries and any other ingredients - spices, peel, chilies, etc. - and cook into a good consistency. Keep stirring as you go along, and make sure your jam is not catching.  You want your jammy lava to bubble away nicely between frequent stirring sessions but not to catch or burn the sugar in there. Test consistency by letting your wooden spoon cool for a minute - if the jam coating your spoon starts solidifying nicely it's good to go. Redcurrant is high in natural gelling agents (pectin) and will achieve a good consistency quite quickly; 15-30 minutes will do it.
  6. Fill into clean sterile hot jars, seal well and put your jars into 'dry steam' to cool off: I take a big basket or a cushy armchair, line it with blankets, old coats, jumpers and put my hot jam filled jars into here, then cover over with more blankets or coats. Leave until it cools entirely (up to 2 days). Once cool, prettify jars to taste and store them in a cool, dry place - a pantry or an allocated cupboard.
We are having some of the chili jam this weekend with some roast Provencal chicken and crushed new potatoes. Mm-mmm!

Have you been preserving anything this season or tried a new jam recipe? I'd love to hear about it!


  1. mmm, thanks for the recipe! I love the photos. <3

    1. thanks Maša! we tried the chilli jam last weekend with some roast chicken - it turned out very good, i recommend! :)

  2. redcurrant together with a little blackcurrant is one of my favorite jelly/jam. Your three jams sound all very good.

    1. Thanks Steph - and thanks for checking my jams out! :)

      Today I tried a bit of the chilli jam with blue cheese on toast for an afternoon snack - boy, it was good!

  3. These berries look beautiful! I've been wanting to make jam for a long time but I have never gotten up the guts to try, since I really only make cupcakes well, haha! I just stumbled over your blog and I think it's pretty great!

    Your Newest Follower,

    1. Hi Hannah,
      Thanks for following and for your sweet comment!
      I was quite nervy when I was cooking the jam I'd never really done it myself before, only helped out or watched on :) It's worth a try it's quite empowering :)

      I don't think I've ever made a cupcake (or a muffin) isn't that odd?

      I hope you'll enjoy reading future posts too!


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