currant juice - conflicting instructions

prairie_love(z3/4 ND)August 16, 2008

OK, this may be a stupid question, but how do I make my currant juice? I want it both for red currant jelly and for the raspberry currant preserves. I think I can make all the juice the same way and separate it for the two uses.

The problem started with Chez Madeline's Gourmet Preserves, which is where the preserve recipes are located. It says to make the juice by combining the currants with the water, simmer, cook, strain. Well, the problem is that it doesn't tell me how much water to use! So I know that if I use more the juice will be thinner, but I have no idea where to start.

So I looked in Mes Confitures. It says to use 3 1/3 pounds currants and 7 ounces water. Wow, that's not very much water.

I looked in BBB. It says 1/4 to 1/2 water for each quart of fruit. Sheesh.

I have no idea how much water to use. Someone who has made these before (esp the raspberry currant) - any guidelines?

I never expected to have to ask how to boil water :)

Ann

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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

As mentioned many times, there are many recipes out there, who CLAIM to be accurate or safe to can, but are simply not. A recipe that just generalizes ingredients like water, salt, sugar, etc, is not really any true kind of recipe that can be followed. A good way to extract all the juices is to use a food strainer instead. This will push the berries through the OPTIONAL fine holed berry screen and will give you seedless juice without any cooking. Then, you can add water if you like. For me, I much prefer not to add water as it just makes the liquid less flavorful. Sometimes a small amount of water is used when cooking the berries so they start to break down sooner, and will not scorch. Once the currents are now in liquid, they need to go into a fine mesh jelly bag and allowed to drip overnight. This jelly bag process is quite slow, compared to a food strainer method.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 11:12AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

You need some water but as little water as possible added. We use the BBB 1/4 c of water for each quart of fruit when we do the cranberry recipes. Not quite the same as currants but close enough.

When finished extracting the juice - we use the berry screen on the food mill to do that - you can always cook it down a bit to intensify the flavor if you wish.

Dave

    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 12:26PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

Well, speaking of conflicting information. There's always going to be more than one way to do something.

I use a steamer-juicer for currants, but basically the idea with any of those recipes that call for juicing is to use the least you can get away with to prevent sticking and scorching until the cell walls collapse and the juice begins to exude from the fruit.

Any additional water will have to be boiled off eventually and that may lead to overcooking if there's a lot of it. The plus side is currants are high-pectin, so you can add water with fewer jelling problems than with low-pectin fruit.

I would never use a food mill or berry screen of any sort for a jelly juice. That will give you a seedless puree, perhaps a very thin one, but not the kind of pristine liquid you want for that raspberry currant preserve. The whole point of any jelly is its clarity. It's wasteful because you're not retrieving any of the pulp, which is one reason jelly is made less frequently than jams or preserves.

Carol

    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 12:56PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Being as dark as current juice is, it would be difficult to know if its actually clear thoughout. Here, clarity isn't an issue as even for that, if I use Pomona on some jellies, it will give a slightly cloudy appearance.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 1:28PM
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prairie_love(z3/4 ND)

Great, thank you all. I will cook with as little water as possible, then I plan to drain through a jelly bag.

Carol, any reason I couldn't use the pulp from this to make a flavored vinegar?

Ann

    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 4:48PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

No reason at all. Last time I used the pulp to make a currant liqueur but vinegar sounds fine too. It will be interesting to hear what recipes you use it in.

Carol

    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 5:10PM
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prairie_love(z3/4 ND)

oooh, like in the vodka-berry liqueurs discussed in another thread recently? there's a good idea....

    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 5:56PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

For liqueur I think the maceration method would work. Currants are small and the skins are thin, aren't they? The color would be gem-like.

Jim

    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 6:13PM
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shirleywny5(5)

I go with the 7 oz. or 1 cup water per 3 quarts or lbs. of currants. I make currant jelly every year and also bar-le-duc [sp] Just cook the currants until soft and they begin to exude juice. Put them through a mill to extract the seeds. The finished jelly will be dark but never clear. If you wanted clear jelly, you would need a ton of currants, and you would have to use a jelly bag to get clear juice. Currants are not a very juicy fruit. I freeze the juice and add it to other berry jams for added tartness.
I make at least one batch of plain currant jelly each year for use in thumprint cookies at holiday time.
Currants contain a lot of pectin.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 9:03PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

I juiced currants and got enough from one batch for the raspberry currant preserve plus currant jelly with lemon slices floating in it. I wonder if juiciness/water content of currants varies by locality or time of the season?

Carol

    Bookmark   August 17, 2008 at 1:25AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

ksrogers - I think the poster is talking about red currants in which case the juice is a beautiful clear garnet red. I have recently made a batch of red currant jelly. I do not use a recipe but I do add water to just cover the berries in the pan. I bring them to the boil and simmer to get the juice to run then strain overnight through a cloth. It is importantt not to press the berries down as this makes the juice cloudy. Just let it drip. Then I measure a pint of juice to a pound of sugar and make my jelly. I don't use pectin because red currants are already very high in pectin. In fact without adding water they would make a very stiff, almost solid jelly. I'm aiming for a clear jewel-like jelly with a slight wobble so it is spreadable but will not slide off what it's put on.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2008 at 12:59PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

Ah, flora_uk, that's just the classic jelly I was alluding to. Like a sparkling ruby.

Carol

    Bookmark   August 17, 2008 at 1:11PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

OK. I used to see small bottlles of current syrup and it was very dark color. I would expect that if the Roma food strainer were used to get seeds out and then the remaining was put in a jelly bag to get out pulp, it would reduce the cooking time and the need to add any water. I'm one that likes to have very strong flavors in jams and jellies, as they are not eaten by the spoonful, but instead are, spread on things like toast or other breads.

I was very disappointed that this year I only picked about 10 red raspberries. Even one of my 'hidden' blueberry bushes was devoid of a single berry. Must add a lot more acid to my soil now.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2008 at 2:04PM
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hoopysmom(z7 OR)

I'm in the process of making currant jelly as well. Hopefully I can get nice clear juice from filtering them thru a jelly bag. I have an abundance of black currants in my garden this year so I'm excited to get started.

Some of the recipes I've found on-line say to put the hot jelly in hot jars and they will seal as they cool. Other recipes say to place the jars in a bath to seal. I haven't canned in 25 years so I don't remember all the rules. Will either way work?

Also the recipes say to use equal parts juice and sugar and no pectin is needed. Does that sound right? Maybe Readinglady would like to share her recipe? :o)

Your help will be appreciated!!!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2008 at 4:05PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

ksrogers - I think you are putting in a stage which is not really needed. The jelly bag or cheesecloth will take care of the seeds. They don't need removing separately. Red currants will yield their juice with very little cooking. 5 - 10 minutes should do it. Then when you come to making the jelly it will gel very quickly because of the high pectin content. No need to boil andf boil to get a set. The flavour remains very fresh. In my experience without water the jelly would be far too solid, like rubber.

Hoopsymom - if you check my post you will see the proportions 1 pint of juice to 1 pound of sugar and no pectin necessary. Blackcurrant jelly would be the same as red. They also makes a great jam and personally I don't mind seeds in jam. Good for the digestion.

Being a grubby and unhygienic Brit I just pour the hot jelly into hot jars, place a waxed paper disc on top, leave to cool and then cover with a cellophane jam pot cover. I reuse old jars and if I have a screw top to fit I put that on when the jelly/jam is cold to avoid evaporation. All this will horrify your compatriots but they know my disgusting habits of old. I recntly opened a jar of chutney from 1998 and we ain't dead yet.

Disclaimer - this lackadaisical approach is only for traditional high sugar jams/jellies and traditional high vinegar/salt pickles and chutneys. I would not do it with bottled fruit and I wouldn't even attempt meat, fish or mushrooms.

Second disclaimer - sorry for any typos. My monitor is on the blink and everything is jumping around. I am going cross eyed trying to read the screen.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2008 at 4:36PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

grubby and unhygienic Brit. That's a good one.

Hoopysmom, equal parts juice and sugar is standard and in this instance is roughly equivalent by volume or weight, so Flora_UK's pint-to-pound works out almost the same.

You can go 1 pint juice (I'm speaking of amount after it goes through the jelly bag) to 2 cups sugar or 1 pint juice to 1 1/2 cups sugar for slightly less sweet.

While the American standard is to boiling water bath preserves, with a jelly like this it's principally to extend shelf life (prevent mold), not a food safety issue.

I have to acknowledge that a traditional jelly is delicate and excessive heat can irretrievably break the gel, so using the open kettle method is understandable. (By open kettle I mean pouring hot jelly into sterilized jars, slapping on the hot lids and calling it good.) The seal will not be as strong as with a boiling water bath product.

I do BWB jellies, but I compromise by sterilizing jars and processing only 5 minutes rather than the more usual 10.

Carol

    Bookmark   August 17, 2008 at 5:27PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

I was just suggesting that no heat could be used to extract the juice.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2008 at 10:57AM
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prairie_love(z3/4 ND)

OK, here's how it went. I started with seven pints of red currants, about 4 3/4 pounds. I added one-half cup water and simmered for 10 minutes. The currants exuded a LOT of juice, I'm not sure I even needed the half cup of water. I put it through a colander first to remove the berries, then strained through a jelly bag. The recipe said to strain for 2 hours but it was still dripping a little so I let it strain overnight. I ended up with 3 1/2 cups juice. Even to do the currant/raspberry preserve and I'll do a little bit of currant jelly today.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 12:19PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

prairie love - I hope it went well. Did you get a good set? Although the water may not seem necessary, currants are so high in pectin you need some to stop your jelly from being too solid. And of course that way you get a higher yield. For future reference you could skip the colander stage. The jelly bag will screen out the berries and you won't lose any juice clinging to the colander or still in the berries. As you may realise from my varous posts I am all for reducing effort..... and washing up.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 6:22PM
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prairie_love(z3/4 ND)

Flora, yes, it set very nicely! Probably beginner's luck, the next 14 times I make it I'll probably have problems with the set :) I will remember that about adding a little water for that reason.

The only reason I used the colander was that my jelly bag is not huge and I thought it might help to get it all through in a shorter period of time. But I agree with you, every transfer results in a little bit of loss and with the yield as low as it is, I don't want to lose ANY!

Thanks for the advice, it is greatly appreciated!

Ann

    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 11:20PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

My mom used an old pillow case instead of a jelly bag, as the amount of berries (in ths case grapes) was quite large, and she wanted it all made into juice. She did have to let it drip longer than just overnight. That was before the the Roma food strainer. In those days it was called Victorio and was a messy machine that needed many improvments that came out a lot later.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 8:33AM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

You will get the maximum juice from putting the fruit into a bag and hanging it. The weight of the fruit acts as an extractor.

The old way (not that it isn't still used!) was to turn a chair or stool upside down, suspend the bag between the legs with a bowl placed below on the underside of the seat. (I hope that makes sense).

Picture below gives you the idea. Just scroll down.

Carol

Here is a link that might be useful: Jelly Bag

    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 12:45PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

reading-lady - I think you must have visited my kitchen. I use an old tall wooden stool, the seat of which just fits a big china basin I have. (The one in your link looks identical to mine.) I don't actually possess a jelly bag either. I use an old tea towel, bits of muslin or whatever other pieces of close woven textile I have around the place that I don't mind sacrificing. Of course it must be clean and also sterilized by pouring boiling water over it before use. I fix the cloth to the feet of the stool legs with drawing pins (thumb tacks?)

    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 1:33PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

My mom used the overhead kitchen cabinet knobs and hung the bag from there.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 6:04PM
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prairie_love(z3/4 ND)

I obviously need a bigger jelly bag :)

    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 6:47PM
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mellyofthesouth(9a FL)

I have a big piece of muslin that I use. I drape it in whatever bowl I'm going to use to collect the juice - a big one. Pour the cooked fruit in, gather it up, tie it with a string and suspend over the bowl from a cabinet knob as stated above. That being said, most of the time I'd rather maximize yield so I ran red currants through my kitchenaid strainer and called it currant jam.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2008 at 7:21AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

The food strainer would remove seeds and give you a jam texture too. No need to use any bag. Just use teh opional berry screen. I use that to make seedless red raspberry jam.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2008 at 10:12AM
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eve54ut

I saw this post much later, but found a wonderful video on how to make currant jelly on You Tube that I thought I'd share. I used the recipe (slightly modified it by adding a box of "Sure Jell Low Sugar Pectin" that I mixed with an additional 1/4 c. sugar and used fresh currant juice & followed the pkg directions for bringing the juice and pectin mixture to rolling boil, then adding the rest of the sugar and boiling for 1 minute), and it was over-the-top! Here's the "long" link for the English guy's "How to Make Currant Jelly" video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3lfMMIN70s&ytsession=P-hdT-fMP0Sv8Ow5ZeD_FYWY5jHbh8BMEJgXJraa_k1GkC3KENqatmgzzMLS2vxI1zyxVHlJARmlDAmni2ylNGTJsGhagOoGrLU6v22sR0bSXxW_w65WDrvhf5J9nR2pQMO2Ejj0d9ZkDFhH_7OnMP-QyGX3eP_hDCodIvvp-y2wE-4-cfcioXqL7Koxf1Rs87GhqSAJNogetR4Z8X9I2YiPiOTIjKu3bYK-2pzNZFmODIsIHlrvBS0EpzSIaVhMqlSyg6Lk1RFEwd8DlsCesVeDJ3wocxe59ebSHsL3MZQ_G287rnjmtg_PIJ5ERrgxjdmUX2IVbK21vE5mOQ2LReehIQr6rJVVBqNUP3lpTfVIrL3bSNtWYgPNLw2JPk8XOmIS9KBqpcicUsiaEkVdoDGIL2X-_4rvTkYyqlhX6rf_LqZtB4lyqCanK_OTH1PIqRG5Pv-sqctAl5uknw3rmDH9-6jD_1GHwT1RmLBo0TvXgQ1xByeztaltMjkqx4InV2v-5oNNfnmpofLoIPGXmfpWYJT0k21PoOIWiJmStceYbJ-MJr8Dqjg2g7CWnNFjkq7lF1tNl987KXNvVKbWIru6U5Xg-U2p-sBW-da8frj8NjPL6u61Eg

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 9:59AM
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eve54ut

P.S. I doubled the batch except the pectin and 1/4 c. sugar and it was soft set and velvety in texture. If you like thicker jam, I'd recommend using two pkgs. of pectin with a double batch. A double batch made six 12 oz. jars of this elegant jelly. I processed for 10 min. in hot water bath. Adding the water to the currant jam was different than other recipes, but I liked it a lot this way. It had a lighter, smoother, and more mellow flavor.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 10:07AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Corrected link is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3lfMMIN70s

Clickable link below.

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: Black currant jelly on YouTube

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 10:12AM
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