I’m not really into shrubs. I probably should be, since my husband was a landscaper for quite a few years. To me, they’re just the elevator music of plants; they provide ambiance with no focal point. So, it came as no surprise when it took me awhile to notice some juicy and delicious looking berries on a couple bushes in the front yard that I’ve ignored for over nine months.
Most berries immediately put me on the defensive, but these seemed worth looking into, because they certainly didn’t look poisonous. A bit of research revealed that they were none other than quite edible black currants. I have basically zero experience with currants, hence my inability to identify them immediately, and saw some mention that a disease had mostly wiped them out in the lower 48, so that explained that.
Now what to do with them! I picked 7 cups of berries total, which I though was pretty good for two little bushes (shrubs have now moved up a level in my esteem). Most of the recipes I found called for currant jam or jelly, so that sealed it. Jam it is!
I merged several recipes to figure out the best berry/water/sugar/lemon ratios for my jam. I also decided to not can the jam, partly because I knew I wouldn’t have all that much, but mostly because I don’t have the supplies for legit canning yet.
Black Currant Jam – 3 1/2 Pints
7 cups fresh black currants
2 cups water
juice of one lemon
3 1/2 cups sugar
I picked the leaves, sticks, and slugs out of the berries and rinsed them a few times. Next, I brought the berries, water, and lemon juice to a boil and let it simmer until the berries had popped and the mixture looked yummy. I poured in the sugar and simmered awhile longer. When it looked jammy and tasted good, I poured it into jars, screwed on the lids, set them out to cool, then put them in the fridge. Totally not how you make jam, but it tastes fantastic!
My next problem was what to do with the jam. Eating it straight from the jar isn’t an option, at least not while anyone is watching. Due to trying to stick to gluten-free I just don’t have bread or crackers around. I hunted down a recipe for gluten-free shortbread cookies that was really easy. I was out of maple syrup so I subbed honey, and it did the trick! We’re already down one batch of cookies and a jar of jam.