For my recipe this week I have turned to tart dark blackcurrants. They make the most fabulous intense jam and the vanilla pod add top notes without making it too sweet, with a wonderful knobbly texture this is a delight to smother over hot buttered toast. Right now I feel the urge to make jam and headed to Mrs Smith Farm shop near Boughton to recover some of the farms previous summers fruit stash. Making jam making itself is simple an requires minimal effort for maximum results, but I do I have one piece of advice when making blackcurrant jam and that is to ensure that your fruit is cooked well before adding the sugar. If you add the sugar too early on it makes the blackcurrants hard. I prefer dollop of Blackcurrant jam to raspberry in my rice pudding. It makes a wonderful topping for cheesecake, is sublime stirred into porridge with a whisper of cream, and goes a treat with fresh baked scones.
Makes 5 x 450g jars
Prep time 35 minutes
Cooking time 18 - 20 minutes
1 vanilla pod
1 kg jam sugar or 1kg of vanilla sugar and pectin ( No need for the vanilla pod)
Juice of 1 fresh lemon
1 Preheat the oven to 160˚C/gas mark 3 and pop the jars (but not the lids) into the oven.
2 Put a small saucer in the fridge to chill.
3 Place the blackcurrants, vanilla pod and water in a large saucepan pan, cover and heat gently for about 10 - 12 minutes. Stir occasionally and gently stir and keep the pan covered.
4 Once the blackcurrants are cooked and the consistency is half juice and half currents, add the sugar and the lemon juice. Stir well. When the sugar is dissolved, bring the jam to the boil for about 4 - 5 minutes on a good bubble. Take the jam jars out of the oven.
5 While the jam boils, use a metal spoon to skim off any froth appearing on the top. Take care not to remove too much jam, though.
6 Once the jam reaches setting point it should be viscous enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. To test for setting point, remove the pot from the heat and drop a teaspoon of jam onto the cold saucer from the fridge. Leave it for about a minute; if it is ready, then the jam will wrinkle as you run a spoon through the centre. If it doesn’t wrinkle, return the pan to the boil and repeat this process about 2 minutes later. Do take care not to over-boil your jam. This setting point should really take no longer than 10 minutes at most to achieve.
7 Ladle the jam into the jars using a jam funnel. After a minute, screw the lids on. The heat from the jam will ensure the lids are sterilised. Don’t worry if the jar lid isn’t done up tightly; you can tighten them later once the jars have cooled.
To listen to more idea’s on how to use Blackcurrant Jam tune in to BBC Radio Northampton 10am on Sunday Morning 104.2FM