Currants...What To Do With Them?

Red currants in the garden.
Call me old fashioned, but I love currants.  I have bushes of them all over my yard.  They are multipurpose; giving me both landscape appeal year round and delicious tart little antioxidant packed berries.  

Currants are amazing in so many ways.  They are loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants which are both excellent for boosting your immune system.  Currants also have a cooling effect on the body.  They have been used for burns and fevers in times past.  An old remedy for sore throats was to take a tablespoon of currant jelly, dissolved hot water and then sipped slowly.  The high vitamin C and cooling effect calmed inflammation in the throat and helped to get rid of the illness.  Currants are really an asset in the garden, in so many ways.  However, they are a PAIN to pick!  They hang from the limbs of the bush in little bundles and can be a bit time consuming to pick and them de-stem.  With all things taken into consideration, I think that they are really worth the effort.  Plus the red berries are gorgeous in your yard.  

I love how the sun hits them.  They light up like Christmas lights.
I sold these at the Kaysville Farmer's Market this last week and the biggest question that I got was what to do with them.  The most common thing to make with them is currant jelly or jam.  They are quite tart and they require a little sweetening to make them really palatable.  I just recently made a really nice raspberry red currant freezer jam with them.  It takes a lot less berries and because both red currants and raspberries are high in pectin naturally, you don't have to add pectin to the jam.  

They are also wonderful tossed in some yogurt in the morning to give you a nice boost of Vitamin C.  I have also made a dessert with them in a kind of jelly layered with panna cotta; red and white stripes...perfect for the Fourth of July.  

Small but mighty...these are packed with nutrition.
If you have room to add a currant bush to your garden, I highly recommend it.  You will love it.  Even if you don't eat the berries, the chickens and birds will love them.  

Raspberry and Red Currant Jam
Backyard Farmgals

Yields about 2 Pints

2 Cups Red Currant Pulp
2 Cups Crushed Red Raspberries
3 Cups Sugar

To make Currant Pulp: Cook currants until soft, adding only enough water to prevent sticking (about 1/4 cup).  Press through a sieve or a food mill.  Discard seeds and skins.  

To Make Jam:  Combine currant pulp and raspberries in a large sauce pot.  Add sugar, stirring until dissolved.  Cook rapidly to gelling point*.  As mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking,  Remove from heat.  Skim foam if necessary.  Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace.  If you are freezing: place parchment rounds over top of jam, adjust two-piece lids, cool for about an hour and then freeze.  If you are canning: Adjust two-piece lids and process in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes.  Remove, allow to cool and check seals before storing.  

*Gelling point:  Before you start cooking the fruit, place a couple of plates in the freezer.  When you test for a gelling point (take fruit off of heat while you test) remove a plate from the freezer, and place a spoonful of jam on the plate.  Allow the fruit to cool to room temperature.  If it holds it's shape and "gels" up it is ready.  If not, return fruit to heat and check again in a few minutes.   



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