Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Currant Catsup

See Making Jam for more information about the jam process, which is more or less what we are doing here.

I should note that I have reduced the sugar considerably from the original recipe; it takes longer to gell but overall I think it will be a noticeable improvement. The allspice is the only spice I ground myself. I don't think it keeps very well once ground. Don't be tempted to add more cayenne pepper; in spite of this being quite an old recipe, it has a good degree of nippyness, and any more will overwhelm the sweeter spices.

5 250-ml jars
40 minutes - 10 minutes prep time

Straining the cooked currants in order to make currant catsup8 cups red currants
3 cups apple cider vinegar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper and not a speck more
4 cups sugar

Put your empty jars in a large canner and cover with water to an inch or more above their rims. Bring to a boil and boil 10 minutes.

Wash the red currants and remove any leaves, but leave them on their stems. Put them in a large pot with the vinegar, and bring them to a boil. Boil until most of the currants have burst.

Press the currants through a sieve. You should have about 5 cups of juice. I was a bit scant; press how I might I could not get much more than 4 and a half but it seemed to work anyway.

Mix the spices in a small bowl and add a spoonful or two of the sugar. Mix in enough currant juice to make a slurry.

Put the currant juice into a large jam kettle or other large, deep pot. Mix in the spices. Bring to a boil and mix in the sugar.

Boil hard, stirring regularly, until the mixture gives signs that it will gell. For me this was about 15 minutes, but it can really vary, so don't go by the time. A drop put on a cold plate (put in the freezer in advance for this purpose) should wrinkle up when pushed along the plate. Alternately, the juice that streams off your stirring spoon when it is lifted out should come off in a sheet, or in multiple streams. By multiple, I mean three or four; two is not enough.

Sorry for the very poor image quality - this is just a bugger to try to photograph. You can just see, I hope, that we are starting to get three streams of drips forming on the spoon.

Put the catsup into the sterilized jars, using a ladle and funnel which have themselves rested in the boiling water for several minutes. Use oven mitts to handle them!

Dip a piece of clean paper towel into the boiling water and wipe the rims of the filled jars. Cover with lids and seal with rims that have both been boiled for 5 minutes.

Finally, pop the finished jars of catsup back into the boiling water bath for 5 minutes. Once sealed and cooled, keep them in a cool dark place, and store in the fridge once opened.

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