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Learn to Make Traditional French Red Currant Jelly

Everyone knows that the best traditional recipes come from grandmothers’ kitchens! And when it comes to jams and jellies, there is nothing better than homemade, as store bought ones just cannot compare. The French do love jams and jellies to accompany our wonderful fresh baquettes and breads for breakfast. I am happy to share this 100-year old French recipe for red currant jelly that is being passed down in our family from generation to generation.

These bright red currant berries may not be abundant in your country, but you will find easily find them on sale in France throughout July. In addition to jellies, we use them in pastries and for that bright touch to decorate a fruit dessert.

Making homemade red currant jelly may seem like a daunting adventure but in fact it is quite easy to make with the right recipe. So why not give it a try?

The first step is buying your “groseilles”. They are the easiest to find on the open market and you will get the best deals there. You will want to buy at least one kilo to start, or if you are feeling confident, buy 2 kilos or more. The photos below were made with 4 kilos of groseilles. To give to an idea of cost, these 4 kilos cost 24€ and 4 kilos of sugar cost 5€. We made 16 jars so each jar came to 1.80€ each.

Here are the steps:

1. Rinse the red currants, stalks, leaves and all, and place them in your cooking pot. Add 250ml of water to the cooking pot per kilo of fruit (including stalks).

2. Bring the berries to a boil. Use a potato masher to crush the berries to extract the juice. This process will just take about 5 minutes.

3. Now you need to extract all the juice from berries into a separate container. So either you have a 100-year old wooden apparatus on hand (unlikely!) to assist you in draining the juice or you will be using a fine strainer. Push the berries through the strainer to extract all the juice. Left in the strainer will be the stalks and skins.

4. Now you want to make the syrup. Place 1 kilo of sugar in the cooking pot (per kilo of groseilles), and add 250 ml of water per kilo of sugar! The recipe calls for “a beer’s glass” worth of water per kilo of sugar! I suppose that is a precise measurement coming from Lille, the region of French breweries. For the purpose of this recipe, let’s stick with 250 ml!

Bring the sugar and water to a boil, mixing as you go. Once the syrup starts to boil (see photo), do not touch it anymore! This point has been emphasized in the family from experience ! Let it boil for 17 minutes, no more, no less!

5. When the 17 minutes are up, pour the groseille juice into the cooking pot on top of the sugar syrup. Bring the mixture again to a boil and let simmer for another 5 minutes. You can test in a side dish if the jelly will congeal. If necessary, let simmer another 5 minutes.

6. Pour the jelly into jars you have sterilized and dried ahead of time. Wipe around the jars with a moist cloth to remove excess jelly. Then seal the jars while jelly is still hot.

That’s it! You’re done!

Let the jelly stand until cool before enjoying. It will take 12 hours to congeal. Hope you enjoy making this old family recipe. Please let us know how it goes!

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