Blackcurrants, jam, cassis and frogspawn
This time of year the soft fruits are coming in thick and fast. I love to take handfuls for breakfast and lunch; this is an ideal use for small quantities as they reach ripeness and fascinates the children who think I eat frogspawn when in fact it is white currants. I used to be fearful of jam making thinking that it was a large quantity affair with jars sitting on shelves going hard or mouldy depending on the sugar levels. However, I have changed my tack and with soft fruit and now adapt a preserve method, which works well for small quantities. The trick is to heat an oven to 110oc and put in two separate containers an equal weight of sugar and soft fruit. Leave in the oven for 20 minutes until the fruit starts to ‘bleed’.
Remove from the oven and stir the sugar into the fruit until fully dissolved. Do not underestimate the heat, the two will cook together and the resulting preserve can be put into jars at this point; this version is likely to be a soft set and only keep for four weeks in the fridge, but ideal with raspberries for scones or yogurt.
A further trick is to continue heating either in the microwave or on the hob to a more traditional setting point. The whole process is quicker than
traditional jam making and results in a fresher fruit jam. I used this technique for blackcurrant jam and a mixed summer fruit jam of gooseberries, red currants, strawberries and raspberries.
Also in production from the blackcurrants is the cassis. Based on Larousse I have used currants, a few of the leaves, a small piece of cinnamon and a clove. The pictures show progress so far, the currants are rising like the little oil bubbles in a Galileo thermometer, I anticipate straining and rebottling when they sink back down to the bottom, the colour is improving but it looks a little thin so I may add a thicker sugar syrup later.