Saturday, December 31, 2011

Almost another disaster

While down in Timaru for Christmas, I took the opportunity to pillage Mum and Dad's blackcurrant bushes, so I could make some blackcurrant jam (p225). Christmas is really a few weeks too early for blackcurrants, so there weren't a lot ripe yet. Even so, we managed to glean about 350g that were ripe or near enough. The recipe is actually for 1kg of currants, but a one-third recipe would make plenty enough for me.

On returning to Christchurch, I spent every spare moment of the following days in the garden or attempting to reduce the mountain of unpacked boxes cluttering up my garage. It was a few days before I realised I had a container of blackcurrants - now starting to look a bit wrinkly - sitting in my kitchen.

So when I got home from work yesterday afternoon, I went straight into the kitchen and made a start on the jam, picking through the blackcurrants, removing any stalks and the odd one that had started to go mouldy. These went into a large pot with some water, and boiled it gently for a few minutes. Once the fruit was soft, I stirred in sugar and brought the jam to the boil.

Blackcurrants are high in pectin and acid, so I knew I wouldn't have any trouble getting this jam to set; I just had to boil it for 15 minutes. Setting a timer, I busied myself by drifting around the kitchen with a screwdriver, replacing the old mismatched handles on my kitchen cupboards with new ones - and keeping one eye on the jam pot, which was boiling away merrily without any interference from me.

Towards the end of the boiling time, I took out the jars that had been sterilising in the oven (after I'd dug them  out of one of the ubiquitous garage boxes) and had a look at the jam. 

As I stirred the jam with a wooden spoon, I realised with a sinking feeling that there was a layer of blackcurrants burnt onto the bottom of the pot. Not again! I stopped stirring, took the pot off the heat and immediately poured the jam into jars.

There was only enough jam for two jars; in fact, neither of these ended up being full, either. A layer of froth at the top of each jar subsided as the jam cooled, leaving a large gap at the top of both jars. Meanwhile, at least half of those carefully-picked blackcurrants were scorched onto the bottom of my pot.

I left the jam overnight, crossing my fingers that I'd got to it early enough that the burnt taste had not permeated the entire pot of jam - like the horrid tamarillo jam I made a few months back.

Well, I've just had a couple of English muffins with blackcurrant jam, and I'm happy to say that it's perfectly edible. As predicted, it's set very firmly, and I can't taste any burnt flavour in it. Phew! Now I just have to get that pot clean...

Blackcurrant jam has never been a favourite of mine; it's quite tart (despite all the sugar) and the texture tends to be a bit lumpy. However, it's less sickly-sweet than some, and it's very easy to make - just pay attention and don't let it burn!


  1. attention Robyn!!
    Very easy though wasn't it. Quite nice on hot toast with thin cheese on top.c

  2. I just got a heap from my neighbour and made black current cordial this week, very nice


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