I've stayed up past my bedtime a couple of nights this week preparing desserts and jams from fruit from our garden. The life I used to lead involving business suits and spreadsheets seems like it occurred several lifetimes ago. My life here in Germany is much more simple and slow. You can't be in too much of a hurry when you're pitting cherries or removing stems from currants.
My husband went out in the rain tonight to pick over three pounds of black currants. I was disappointed. In their raw state I find them sour and tasting of pine. I thought he had gone out to pick red currants. Black currants are pretty interesting though because they were banned from America in the early 1900s because they carried a disease that threatened the lumber industry. In the 60s the decision to allow them or not went back to the states. Now, several states grow them but they continue to be somewhat rare.
I decided I would make jam so we sat down to some TV and picked through making sure all of the green stems were removed. We didn't fuss with removing the remaining bits of flowers.
I've found that Americans are much more particular about sterilizing jars than Europeans. Following the method suggested by German neighbors and British recipes, I soak clean jars and lids in a sink full of hot water while I prepare the jam. I remove them just before filling. I turn filled jars upside down to seal. Americans say this is like playing Russian Roulette with your food. After doing a bunch of research we're going to move to the pressure cooker method in the future, just to be safe. We don't want to be in the business of killing our friends and neighbors.
Whole Berry Black Currant Jam
IngredientsEqual weights of stemmed black currants and white sugar
Juice from one lemon
Place fruit in a large pot and cover with just enough water to cover the bottom of the pot.
Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until fruit breaks down, 15 or 20 minutes.
Add lemon juice and sugar and boil, stirring constantly, until a candy thermometer reaches 220*F. Remove from heat.
Ladle into jars using a funnel, filling very nearly to the top. Screw lids on tightly and place jars upside down to seal, or follow the pressure cooker method.