Preserving the weekend

Despite being in my early twenties, one of my favourite types of cooking and indeed, food, is a little more geriatric.

I love pickling, preserving, drying and macerating…basically, if it belongs in a Kilner jar, I’ll give it a go. Pickling, alongside baking and knitting have classically been thought of as the pursuits of old biddies, but the past couple of years they’ve become hugely popular – especially with GBBO and Kirsty Allsopp Knits a House (or whatever that programme is). The people I have been inspired by?  Anna Colquhoun the Culinary Anthropologist, Riverford‘s Pickling Kits, Tim Hayward’s ‘Food DIY‘ and Diana Henry’s ‘Salt, Sugar, Smoke‘.

It all started with Riverford pickled cucumber, and now having experimented with preserved lemons, marmalade, green tomato chutney, and my own gin (to name a few…), my fascination with preserving has grown and grown.

That’s why this weekend, having rescued a box of red currants from the office, I thought I’d make a Red Currant and Rosemary Jelly, a perfect accompaniment to autumn roasts.

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Red currants, like apples, are really easy to make jams and jellies with as they naturally contain pectin (the component which makes them set), so the ingredient list tends to be minimal!!

Step 1. 

Weigh the red currants and then weigh out the same amount of caster or granulated sugar.

Step 2.

Put the red currants in a preserving pan over a medium heat until they start to soften and break down. You can use the edge of your wooden spoon to aid this. It should take about ten minutes.

Step 3.

Next, add the sugar and stir until it’s dissolved. Bring to the boil and add a couple of sprigs of rosemary.

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Step 4.

To check whether the jelly has reached setting point I take a metal teaspoon and dip it in the liquid. Leave it for about 30 seconds then check the consistency. If it’s ready the jelly should have partially set.

Step 5.

Once the jelly has reached setting point, take it off the heat. Line a sieve with a double layer of muslin and place on top of a bowl or measuring jug. Start ladling the mixture into the sieve, collecting the clear liquid below.

At this point you need to sterilise your jars. Wash them in warm soapy water and rinse. Then place them in a preheated oven for 5 minutes, before removing carefully! For Kilner jars, boil the rubber seal to sterilise it. You can also do this if your jar lid is not brand new.

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Step 6.

When all of the liquid has been extracted from the mix, fill your sterilised jars (which should still be warm) right to the top. If there is a big air pocket at the top, this can harbour bacteria, meaning the jelly won’t last as long. Screw on the lid and instantly turn upside down. The heat will sterilise the lid.

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I added a little more rosemary to the jars for decoration and to intensify the flavour.

This gorgeous Red Currant and Rosemary Jelly will keep for about 6 months, if you can last that long! It will be perfect with lamb or cheese.

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