Capturing Summer – Redcurrant jelly

Redcurrant jellyIt seems hard to believe but the nights are already drawing in and the fruit harvest season is coming to an end. The autumn fruiting raspberries have a while to go yet – the canes themselves are now bigger than me and are producing a decent crop of good sized juicy berries. But both my redcurrant and blackcurrant bushes are now empty of fruit after I spent time stripping them of their jewel bright fruits.

Recurrant harvest

I’d already made some delicious cordial with blackcurrants and the rest has been made into three jars of jam. But the redcurrant needs a bit more thought as its produced its best ever harvest producing over two kilos of fruit.

Redcurrant jelly - straining

I’ve made half of it into redcurrant jelly using the recipe from the River Cottage Preserves book. It’s pretty straightforward. First you make your juice and you don’t even need to strip the berries off their stalks to do that. Just put them in a large pan with water, simmer and wait until all the juices have been released. Then it’s all about patience as you need to leave it to strain naturally with no pressing of the juices out of the fruit as it will make the final jelly cloudy. I have this wonderful straining bag from Lakeland and I had to stand on a stool to tip all the fruit into it.

I left it for about 6 hours before putting the juice back into a pan, bringing to the boil before adding granulated sugar stirring all the time (there is a lot of pectin in currants so you shouldn’t need special sugar for this).
Redcurrant jelly - set

You then bring it to the boil again for about 8 min until it’s reached its setting point. I test for this in two ways – using a probe thermometer to check the syrup has reached 105C and then I pop a teaspoon of the syrup onto a very cold saucer to make sure that a crinkles once cool. It’s then popped into jars whilst warm.

It’s incredibly tasty stuff. I wolfed the little that was left on the ladle as jam maker’s perks. Roll on Autumn when I can start adding this to the juices of my Sunday joint to create a delicious gravy. I just need to decide what to do with the rest of them…Any ideas?

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The Monday Baker Gardening Special

Phlox

We seem to be tumbling towards June at a rapid rate of knots yet I’m still putting the heating on and using a brolly remarkably regularly. To make matters worse my plum tree hasn’t blossomed at all this year which means for the first time there’ll be no plum jam, sauce, vodka (insert favourite plum recipe here). But for once we had sun and warm weather this weekend. So there has been less baking and more sowing and weeding. In “celebration” of this fact here is a bit of a gardening special (with a small amount of bread…).

I’ve sowing fennel and salad leaves and I’m waiting for my French beans to germinate. Some plants are already well underway including my courgette plants. All 6 of them have sprouted and are doing well. I’m taking a bit of a risk and have potted 2 of them up and put them outside. The forecast at the moment is for no frost so I have my fingers crossed that it stays that way. If not I have 4 back ups still in the greenhouse.

Courgette

Whilst my plum tree has been a failure this year, elsewhere I have plenty of signs of a decent fruit crop, including my Bramley apple which has a decent amount of blossom on it.

Bramley blossom

There are also loads of redcurrants and blackcurrants already starting to form as well as these little beauties – alpine strawberries. I grew these from seed a few years ago and now they have self seeded everywhere in the garden. These are hidden underneath one of my climbing roses.

Wild Strawberries

As part of my general clearing up I’ve been moving a few pots around and this is how I found this little fellow – possibly the smallest toad I’ve ever seen! He soon hopped off into a secluded spot by the side of the greenhouse.

Very small toad

It hasn’t been completely bread free though. I made some naan breads with toasted cumin seeds in to go with our curry and another batch of the semolina buns I made a couple of weeks ago but this time in as burger buns. So here they are along with my new bread basket.

Semolina buns in basket