Red currants, the beautiful ruby red berries, aren't the easiest to find. Luckily I've grown up with a bush in my parents' backyard. Every summer we pick each and every single last berry to make jars of jelly that we can enjoy the rest of the year long. It's great that we have such treasures at our fingertips.
Commonly red and black currants are made into jellies. In fact black currant jelly or jam is very popular in England. I remember that while studying abroad in London, no matter how hard I looked, I could not find Concord grape jelly for my peanut butter sandwiches, so black currant jelly became my substitute, which I really came to adore.
Red currants grow in grape-like clusters on small bushes, the fruit has become a rarity in the United States. Mistakenly thought to promote a tree disease, currant bushes across the country were systematically uprooted in the early 1900s, and production was prohibited for many years. But now you can find currants in the farmers' markets. Grab up some pints when you see them, because the season won't last long.
Here is any easy—but it can be a bit messy—recipe for seedless red currant jelly. Use the delightfully tart jelly for filling pastries or simply spread it on toast.
Red Currant Jelly
3 pints red currants (about 6 cups berries without stems)
2 cups granulated sugar
Combine the currants and the sugar in a large pot and set over medium-high heat. The berries should release their liquids and begin to bubble and foam. Stirring occasionally, simmer slowly, and allow it to reduce in volume by half. Let the mixture cool.
Into a medium-size pot strain and press the berry mixture through a fine sieve or chinois. Put the pot back onto medium-high heat and reduce by half again. Let the mixture cool.
Fill a sterilized canning jar with the cooled berry mixture. A quart-size Mason jar should do. Leave a 1/4-inch space between the jelly and the top of the lid; tighten on a self-sealing lid. Process the jar for about 5 minutes in a boiling water canner. The jelly can be stored in the pantry for up to a year.