If you’ve tasted both blackcurrants and red currants, it’s hard to believe they’re related. Blackcurrants have a deep, astringent flavor reminiscent of a dry wine. Red currants, on the other hand, are bright, light and quite sweet. Blackcurrant jam is a rarity in the US, and a treasure to find, but red currant jam is almost non-existent.
Red currants are finding their way into backyard gardens, and their beauty is hard to resist at farmer’s markets. Since your corner grocery likely doesn’t carry red currant jam, you can buy it online for $10 a jar or get out your jam pot and make your own. The unique flavor of red currant jam is worth the extra effort.
Red currants are delicious eaten out of hand, but they aren’t sold in supermarkets. The fruits are soft-skinned and fragile. It’s almost impossible to pick them without bruising them, and removing their stems often pulverizes them.
If you find red currants in pint baskets at the farmer’s market, they’ll still have stems attached in fruit clusters because that gives them an extra few days of shelf life. It also saves the farmer a lot of work.
Still, even with stems attached, their days are numbered.
Once you get a basket of red currants home, it’s best to use them up that same day. There’s no guarantee that they’ll make it to tomorrow, and they’re definitely doomed by the end of the week.
If you’re growing currants in your backyard, plucking whole clusters is also the best strategy. If you try to stem these beauties in the field, you’ll lose more berries than stems.
Once you do get them in the house, hand stemming is optional. If you want seedless jam, you can skip the stemming step altogether.
I’m one of those strange people that really likes the seeds in jam. I want to feel the toothsome bite of a piece of fruit in my jam, and I’ve never minded a seedy jam.
Red currant jam is usually seedless, and the berries, stems and all, are run through a food mill or chinois sieve to separate the meat from the seeds and stems. That method is much easier, especially for larger quantities of red currants.
Since I want to keep the seeds in my jam, I hand stem the red currants. Feel free to use a food mill and save yourself a good bit of tedious work.
Your jam will be smooth and seedless, as many people prefer it. If you want to keep the chunks, grab a glass of lemonade and take a seat on the porch and get to work.
Either way, once the red currants hit the pot, you’re only a few minutes away from a finished jam. While homemade blackcurrant jam needs about 30 minutes of simmering and tending before it’ll set up, red currant jam is ready in about 5 minutes, no pectin needed.
Add a tiny bit of liquid (water or juice) to the bottom of the pan to prevent scorching, and then add the red currants. For the first minute, it’ll look like currants floating in juice, but once it gets going it sets up fast.
As the fruit begins to boil, add in sugar to your taste. Many recipes call equal amounts of fruit and sugar by weight.
For every pound of stemmed currants, they add in a full pound of sugar. While I do this for astringent blackcurrants, sweet and bright red currants don’t need that much sweetness in my opinion.
I generally add about 1/4 pound of sugar per pound of fruit for a tart jam. A 1/4 pound of sugar leads to a quite tart jam, and that may be too much for most palates.
A half-pound is probably more appropriate for most people accustomed to a homemade real food diet. That said, if you love the sweetness of store-bought jam, go ahead and add in the fruit and sugar in a 1 to 1 ratio.
I’ve written the recipe using a 2:1 fruit to sugar because it’s appropriate for a wider audience. The amount of sugar in the recipe does not change the process, and it’s not necessary to safely can currant jam. It’s your jam, you decide.
Once the jam begins to thicken, it may trace in the pan. If there’s a lot of currants in your batch, the trace may not be as obvious as the picture above.
When you run a spoon through the jam, it’ll look thick and the sugars will begin to candy. The bubbles will change, and instead of looking like water, it’ll look a good deal more like boiling syrup.
At that point, take it off the heat. Red currants have a lot of natural pectin and they’ll set hard if overcooked. My batch simmered for no more than 5 minutes before reaching a stiff gel once cooled.
If you’d like to test the gel of your jam, place a plate in the freezer and dollop a bit on the frozen plate to flash cool it. Once it’s cool, you’ll be able to see the finished texture.
This is a small batch recipe, for just a single half-pint jar. It’s made with a single farmer’s market pint of currants, which usually contains 2 to 2 1/2 cups of fruit. That works out to right about a pound.
We grow our own currants and I make bigger batches, but I know backyard currants are not as common these days. If you do have more fruit, feel free to use 4 to 6 pounds per batch. Too much more than that and it’ll be hard to prevent scorching.
Red currant jam is quick and easy to make at home. Leave the seeds in for a chunky jam, or sieve them out, your choice. One pound of fruit yields roughly 1 half-pint jar of jam. This recipe can be made with 4 to 6 pounds of fruit per batch for larger quantities.
Red Currant Jam
Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Unsaturated Fat: 0g
Red currant jam is quick and easy to make at home. Leave the seeds in for a chunky jam, or sieve them out, your choice.
One pound of fruit yields roughly 1 half-pint jar of jam. This recipe can be made with 4 to 6 pounds of fruit per batch for larger quantities.
Where can red currant berries ir juice be bought in nj?
The only place I’ve seen red currants (other than homegrown) is at farmer’s markets. I can’t speak for NJ specifically though.
I’m not sure where you are in NJ but I picked some up last weekend in Brooklyn. The Russian markets at Brighton beach had tons of them.
Thank you for sharing your insight into currants, jams and all things related. I grew up in Michigan, but have lived my adult life in Tennessee. While growing currants here is a bit of a challenge (summer heat) I’ve planted one black, one pink and one red. It has been a couple of years trial and error gardening, but the bushes are coming along nicely. I’m saving your article and recipe for the future.
In Vermont, even though it’s not that hot, the only grow well in shade. Ours are sandwiched between the house and the woods, on the east side of the house near a creek. They only get a short bit of morning sun, and then spend the day in cool shade. Anywhere else and the leaves turn brown in the sun. Enjoy the jam!
I live in southern Ontario in Canada and have some trouble with sawflies on my red currant bushes. I have sprayed them with soap and water and they have greatly reduced. I have a large crop this year. Some leaves are yellow and damaged which I think is from the flies. Any advice for pruning and how to prevent them? We have had unusually wet spring and now some very hot days. My bushes get about 4 hours of sun and rest of day in the shade.
My red current bushes finally made enough currents to do something with (other than munch on while in the yard). I had 1/2 lbs and combined them with 1/2 lbs wild black raspberries and made an amazing pint of jam!
Scott A McInnis
I’ve been making currant jam (both red and black) for 60 years. I prefer the lower sugar as I like the tartness. These jams are superb not only on bread but make a superior condiment with meats and poultry. I grew up in Michigan where currants grow well but now live in Colorado at 7,000 feet and the higher elevation is cool enough for the bushes to thrive in part shade. We got 14 lbs from two red currant bushes this year.
Scott, I am excited for you and your bounty of currants. I also grew up in Michigan, but I’ve been a Tennesseean over half my life. I live in the Northeast corner of the state. I try to grow and nurture bushes here, but it is a struggle with our summer temperatures. Some years I get enough to make a single jar of Jam/Jelly and others…not so much. Good for you, I enjoyed reading about your experience.
Hi everyone! Ive had currants growing on my ranch for years and just figured out what they are! So glad to have discovered them. I live at 7,000 feet elevation in colorado as well and they grow in the shade beautifully. This jam is sooooo delicious and I love the comment earlier about using it with poultry and meats! Definitely!
That’s great! Thanks so much for sharing.
I have made currant jam for the last 3 yrs. I use the currants from both the black and red bushes combined. Because of the naturally high pectin content, jam making is easy. My husband prefers little to no seeds so this year I have used the hand rotary food mill press. There is nothing better than homemade jam. We live in Southwestern Ontario in Canada and this year went from winter into summer in less than a month. But as a whole, our temps are great for gardening. .everyone enjoy your jam. Thank you for the refresher on jam.
You’re right, there’s little better than homemade jam! I’m glad you liked the recipe!
First year for Red Currants!! And I’m sure not the last! Quick question…can I leave the blossom ends on? I saw a site that said you had to remove the black currant blossom ends…
I don’t believe it’s necessary to remove the blossom ends on the red currants. As a matter of fact most of the sources that I am seeing say it isn’t necessary for the black either.
I make red currant & red raspberry jelly and jam. I buy my currants online at a place called Currant C. They are fast-frozen and come packed in a foam cooler box. You can find black as well as red currants.
I have just picked a bumper crop of red currents from my three bushes this year, I’m getting ready to make some of your jam, and a couple of current/peach cakes. After that I’m not sure. I still have some in my freezer from last year.
I’d like to say as a footnote, that I live in Michigan and my current bushes are growing really well in full sun. They have tripled in size in three years and now I’m thinking of getting a couple more. So I’m
It sure why some are having trouble with their bushes.
This is the second year that I’ve made red currant jam from my garden. Last year I used sugar and it was perfect. I have now cut sugar out of my diet so this year I used monkfruit sweetener. I simmered it for quite some timebefore refrigerating it. Overnight it thickened, but it’s not quite firm enough. It is still somewhat pourable. Any chance of a fix this late in the game?
I am not sure if there is anything you can do at this point. You could probably just use it more like a syrup. I would say that it was probably the monkfruit sweetener. If you are using the monkfruit, you may want to add a little low sugar pectin like Pomona’s to be sure that you get a good set.
I have 3 red currant bushes and one black currant. Usually make red currant jelly BUT KICK IT UP A NOTCH by adding about 3 tbs of cloves to about 6 cups of juice, and boil them in juice about 5 min., remove them( can do it with cheesecloth bundled and removed)- then continue on with sugar , pectin and can. Trying the jam with my second harvest. Will add clove/ maybe.
But adding the clove is really lovely. Also add ginger and occasionally jalapeño to my blackberry jelly. Way Yum!
That sounds really lovely. Thanks for sharing.
I have some frozen red currants, can I just prepare them as fresh? Or do I need to do something specific to account for them having been frozen?
You should be able to use frozen currants without problems as long as they weren’t overripe and didn’t have a lot of excess moisture when frozen. I would also skip adding the extra water when cooking them. Also, they may take a bit longer to cook since you are starting from frozen.
I’m from the UK, and have grown redcurrants for 20 years. They are great eaten straight from the bush, or frozen, and added to fruit salads or with ice cream. Redcurrant jam is must, and keeps well. Thank you for your recipe. My wife prefers blackcurrant jam though.
I’m always willing to try variations.
You’re welcome. So glad you enjoyed the recipe.
I found many wild currant plants on our latest camping trip near Denali Alaska. Your induction and recipe was perfect. Thank you. I made it with seeds in for ease. Turned out well.
You’re welcome. What a great find! So glad you enjoyed the recipe.
I have three -2 year old red currant bushes and they yielded 2 cups this year. This was amazing. We are so excited, it is delicious. Thank you for taking the scary out of self reliance! We love all of your articles. If you ever decide to put all of your things into a printed book I am in! I’d pay $100 for a big book with all your beautiful pictures and information. I’m sure it would be worth more.
Thank you so much. We’re so glad you’re enjoying the posts.