One preserve that has suffered bitterly from commercialism is redcurrant jelly: so often it is sickly sweet and the flavour of the redcurrants is lost among other ingredients.
Luckily, I've found an extremely easy recipe for making it from Eliza Acton's Modern Cookery for Private Families (1840). Her name for it was 'Superlative Redcurrant Jelly'. This recipe makes almost 1 litre, but the process is exactly the same for a larger quantity.
Makes two 0.5 litre jars
|2 lb (900 g) redcurrants|
|2 lb (900 g) sugar (to speed dissolving, this can be warmed in the oven)|
|Need help with conversions?|
You will also need 1 pack muslin from the chemists, 1 large nylon sieve, waxed discs and two 0.5 litre jars.
This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course, Delia Smith’s Complete Illustrated Cookery Course and How to Cook Book Two.
The first easy thing is that there's no need to go through the tedious business of stripping the currants from the stalks. Just place the washed fruit – stalks and all – in a preserving pan, bring slowly to the boil and stir, pressing the redcurrants to break down the fruit and release the juice.
As soon as the fruit is cooked (about 10 minutes), add the sugar, stir until absolutely dissolved, then bring the mixture up to a rapid boil, and boil for 8 minutes. Meanwhile, place a large nylon sieve over a bowl and line it with a double layer of gauze.
Then, when the 8 minutes are up, tip the whole lot into the sieve and let it drip through. If you don't mind not having a completely clear jelly, you can press to extract as much as possible.
Then pour the jelly into the jars, which have been washed, dried and heated in a moderate oven for 5 minutes, cover with waxed discs and seal while still hot.
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In the winter, when only imported lamb is reasonably priced, this is a good way to jazz up half a shoulder.
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