Friday, August 12, 2016

Raspberry and Red Currant Jelly

Raspberry and Red Currant Jelly

Recipe Provenance
The following recipes come from a collection of recipes found in a manuscript journal located in the H. Furlong Baldwin Library at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore. The manuscript is attributed to Ann Maria Morris and the date of 1824 is written on the inside cover. The recipe below is one of many from the manuscript that will be included in a book I am writing. The book will contain biographical information about Mrs. Morris, an annotated transcript of the entire manuscript as it was written, and a section of modern recipe adaptations.

The Recipes

Raspberry Jelly
Put the raspberries in a stone jar & set it in a pot of water over the fire until the juice is extracted. Then pour it in a kettle and to one pint of juice take one lb. of sugar. boil it 15 or 20 minutes, You may use one third currant Juice if you prefer it.

Currant Jelly
Put your currants in a stone jar, & set it in a pot of water over the fire until the juice is extracted, then pour the juice off in a kettle, and to a pint add a lb. of sugar & boil it 15 or 20 minutes.

About Red Currants
Americans can find raspberries in many supermarkets, grocery stores, and farmers markets. Red currants, alas, are a bit harder for American cooks to source though they can be found when they are in season, anytime from late spring to early winter depending on location. It should be noted that red currants are a completely different product from the tiny dried zante currants found in the raisin department of the supermarket. Red currants are not not dried grapes; they are a member of the Ribes family which includes black currants, golden currants, and gooseberries. Red currants are very small bright red berries, and they have a mild tart flavor. They look like beautiful little red shiny pearls:

Red Currants
These berries grow around the world in northerly climates. In North America, American Indian tribes used them to make pemmican (a power bar made with dried meat, fat and dried fruit). In Europe, the red currants can be traced back to as early as the 15th century in a German manuscript. Red currants figure widely in early American cookery books. Here are some examples of early American red currant recipes:

1839 - The Good Housekeeper by Sarah Josepha Hale
1870 - Aunt Babbette's Cook Book
1889 - The International Jewish Cook Book by Florence Greenbaum

Though clearly popular in the 19th century, red currants seem to have fallen out of mainstream American cooking today. This is a shame because they make great jellies that can be served alongside wild game and fowl, and the jelly is also very tasty on toast. Red currants add a nice tartness to the raspberries in this jelly recipe. I hope you enjoy it.

Raspberry and Red Currant Jelly: Modern Recipe Adaptations
Yield: About 4 Cups

  • 27 Ounces of Raspberries, Washed
  • 12 Ounces of Red Currants, Washed
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 3 Cups Granulated Sugar
  1. Place the raspberries and the red currants (stems and all) in a heavy-bottomed stock pot and add the water. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Stir freqently. Reduce heat to medium and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently and pressing the currants to release their juice.
  2. Remove the fruit from the heat. Have ready a jelly-straining bag and rack or a fine-mesh sieve suspended over a bowl. Transfer the fruit to the strainer and allow the juice to drip out. While you can stir the fruit to release the juice, do not press on the fruit or the jelly will be very cloudy. See the photos of the jelly strainer below. When completely drained, you should have about 3 cups of juice.
  3. Mix together the juice and sugar and set on medium-high heat. Heat until the mixture reaches about 220º F. It should take about 15 minutes. Stir frequently. Remove from the heat as soon as it reaches 220º. Note: Getting to the gelling point can be very tricky. You can go from un-gelled to burned in a matter of seconds. Click here to help guide you as you learn how to do this properly.
  4. Version with Pectin: 
    • Mix together 3 cups of the fruit juice with 4 tablespoons of pectin. Bring to a boil over high heat.
    • Add 3 cups of sugar and and bring back to the boil. Boil for one minutes, stirring constantly.
Jelly Strainer

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