Today while walking . . . well, somewhere in . . . a city . . . I noticed something dark purple and shiny calling out to me from some shrubbery. It was . . . it couldn’t be . . . no, it really was a blackcurrant bush! And there were ripe purple berries dangling there just begging to be picked. (photos to come)
I couldn’t believe my good fortune, that such a treasure had not already been gleaned by another observant forager like myself. I filed the location and vowed to return at a more convenient time to collect my treasure. X marks the spot 🙂
So I returned under cover of dusk, wearing a green dress so as to blend in with the shrubbery, and spent a good half-hour picking. Oh, the smell! I was in cassis heaven as I plucked the juicy berries from the branches.
I brought my treasures home and marched through my little girl’s bedtime routine all the while thinking about the jam I could make with my find.
Well, after getting her into bed, and chatting with my mom on the phone I got down to the serious business of microwave jam making . . . at 11 o’clock.
First, I found a recipe seemingly from a Four-H club (?) for making small batches of microwave jam. Aha! Perfect. For what I had was the makings of a small batch.
I knew that when I started out, even before I had measured my one-and-almost-three-quarters cups of picked berries. The recipe calls for 1 1/2 to 2 cups of cut up fruit, but I was willing to go a little on the lean side. I even included all of the “blemished” fruit, hoping that it wouldn’t spoil the flavour too much.
Then I topped and tailed them, and washed them. In the measuring cup full of water, several of the more blemished ones floated to the top. “That can’t be good,” I thought, and took a peek inside. Nope, not good. It was a dried-out stinky worm-bed inside my beautiful berries.
There was no denying the fact that they most certainly would spoil the flavour, so I went through them again, discarding any berries sporting what looked remotely like a worm hole. Down to . . . a very respectable 1 cup of washed, sorted, topped and tailed berries. Sigh.
So I decided to halve the recipe. “At least I’ll get one jar of jam,” I reassured myself as midnight struck and my dear partner (who had stood by me during the sad, sad culling process) went to bed.
The recipe calls for:
1 1/2 cups of chopped fruit
flavourings and lemon juice (this refers to a mysterious unlinked “chart”)
1 1/2 cups sugar
So I halved the sugar and added a bit over a tablespoon of lemon juice for good measure, and set about following the instructions.
Heat in microwave about 6 minutes, or until boiling–mine took much less time. Stir well, and then cook in microwave 10 to 13 more minutes, stirring every 2-3 minutes. Mine went faster here too, and I was done after about 6 minutes. It says at this point you should chill a spoonful in the fridge for 15 minutes to test the consistency, but I was pretty sure mine was jelling, so I jarred it*.
And this is what I got:
Approximately 2/3 of a one-cup jar of black currant jam. Sigh.
Well, what this experiment taught me was respect for two things: 1, the price of high-quality blackcurrant jam, and 2, the value of pesticides.
I’m going to bed now, but at least I can look forward to some tasty jam tomorrow morning.
* Microwave jam is not processed, so it must be refrigerated immediately and will last for about a month in the fridge.