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Red Berry Jelly

Created by Canal House Cooking, this luscious currant jelly is perfect to serve with lamb or veal. You can make it with any soft summer berries. The Canal House cooks prefer soft jellies that are made without pectin. Currants have a high level of pectin so the jelly will set beautifully. If you are using other berries, add the peel and seeds from a Granny Smith apple to provide natural pectin.

Ingredients:

  • 3 quarts ripe red currants or other berries
  • Sugar as needed

Directions:

Put the currants or other berries, stems and all, in a jam pot or large heavy enameled cast-iron pot. Gently crush the fruit with the back of a wooden spoon. Set over medium-low heat and bring just to a simmer. Cook until the berries collapse slightly and lose their vibrant color, about 1 hour.

Transfer the fruit and juice to a large jelly bag suspended over a large bowl. (Alternatively, line a large bowl with a large piece of double-thickness cheesecloth so that the edges of the cloth drape over the sides of the bowl. Transfer the fruit and juice to the center of the cheesecloth. Gather the corners together and tie them into a knot. Slide a long wooden spoon through the knot and suspend the bag over the bowl.) Don’t press the berries; it could make the jelly cloudy. When the juice stops running, discard the berries. This will take several hours or up to overnight. Each quart of berries should yield about 1 cup of juice.

Pour the juice back into the pot and add 1 cup of sugar for every 1 cup of juice. Set the pot over medium heat and bring to a boil. Boil, skimming off any foam, until the liquid reaches 220°F on a candy thermometer, about 10 minutes. If you don’t have a thermometer, spoon a few drops of jelly onto a saucer and see if it sets and wrinkles slightly when you push it with your finger.

Meanwhile, wash 6 half-pint canning jars with their lids and rings in hot soapy water and rinse them, then place in a large pan or bowl and cover with boiling water. Keep them in the hot water until ready to use. Remove the jars from the water and pour out any water. Arrange the jars together for easy filling. At the same time, fill a large pot (large enough to hold the jars in a single layer) with warm water to a depth of 4 inches. A canning kettle with a rack is ideal.

When the jelly is ready, use a sterilized glass measuring cup and a funnel to pour about 1 cup of the jelly into each jar, leaving about 1/2 inch of headspace. Using a paper towel dipped in hot water, wipe the rims clean. Place the lid on each jar, then screw on the rings. Arrange the jars in the water in the pot (the water should cover the jars by 2 inches) and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 10 minutes.

Using tongs, remove the jars from the water and place on a tray lined with a kitchen towel. Let the jars cool undisturbed for 12 hours. If the jars have sealed properly, the lids will be slightly indented and not springy to the touch. If a jar did not seal properly, either repeat the water bath process or refrigerate and use the jelly. Makes 6 half-pints.

Recipe by Canal House Cooking.