Sunday, 21 July 2013

Blackcurrant and Balsamic Jam

I basically made the jam so I could make a fun label.

I have had quite the delightful weekend for myself. I survived Southern Ontario Tornado 2013 and started Saturday with a trip to the Farmer’s Market. I now have material for about ten posts, but we’ll start with what I did today, which was blackcurrant jam.

I’ve never made a preserve of any type before, for a number of reasons. One, I am not a pioneer. Secondly, it seemed rather intimidating. It seemed it would take hours, and it also seemed like the potential for poisoning and killing people was high. So I was put off, obviously. Up until yesterday. Yesterday, those gorgeous little black currants were just calling out to me, begging me to take them home and simmer them with gallons of sugar, and then spread them on delicious various cheeses and baguettes.

I acquiesced.  I feel that at this point in my life, I am enough of a grownup that I can follow instructions on preserving fruits and vegetables and hermetically seal mason jars. I can do this. If pioneers could do it, surely I can too. I was fairly good at Oregon Trail after all. Only one out of every four people in my party usually died of dysentery.

So anyway, the important lesson here is that jamming is not actually that difficult, and if you were the type of person who didn’t kill every plant that came with 10 metres (not me), you maybe would have fruit producing trees. You may actually have bushels of fruit and this could be a good way to deal with them. Mummy, as you may have seen in the jarring tomatoes blog, does this every fall. She once made a delicious cinnamon and peach jam, it was perfect for a nice Brie.

Picked clean!
I decided to add a splash of balsamic to my blackcurrant jam, because that sounds pretty fancy and delicious to me. I think you can really just be totally creative here and experiment with flavours. It doesn’t have to be Smuckers Grape Jelly, because you are better than that.

Let’s begin. Start by ensuring your blackcurrants are just fruit, no stems or leaves or anything. I know, you’re thinking to yourself, “That sounds time consuming. That doesn’t sound like Bailey. We know she hates attention to detail.” If you were thinking that, you would be right. I hate that sort of thing. But try to think of this as a meditative activity. Sit in the sun, sip your tea, and be in the Now. Enjoy the beauty of the currants; be grateful for your health. Blah blah. Just do it, because imagine the mortification if you served your homemade jam (which you will do, and you will likely act superior about it, because you are clearly an artsy Lady (or man) of the Canyon) and then someone gets a twig or insect in the heap of jam on their nice sheep’s milk blue? Exactly. So take the time and sort through them. Keep in mind you’re going to boil jars here, and disinfect and seal and do all sorts of other tasks, so just take the ten minutes to go through the currants.

Things are happening here! 
Now, the time it took you to read that bossy paragraph is all the time it will probably take you to go through your pint of fruit. That’s what we’re using here. It’s roughly two cups. I know that because I used a converter app on my phone, not because Ms. Graham, my Grade 10 math teacher, was able to permeate my teenage girl brain with important facts like how to convert distance and weight.

Put your cleaned currants in a saucepan and add 1½ cups of water. I also added a half-cup of balsamic vinegar. Bring to a boil and then simmer until currants are soft, about 20 minutes. I didn’t cover the pot for this, because I wanted the liquid to reduce. Add 3 cups of sugar. Stir and simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes. In recipes, they will tell you to look for a temp of about 220° on a candy thermometer, but who has one of those? Not me. You’re looking for the setting point, or in my experience, when your wooden spoon starts sticking to the whole damn kitchen.

Meanwhile, the important part of not poisoning other humans. Boil your mason jars for ten minutes and then set them out on the counter on a clean tea towel. Pour your hot jam into it (not completely to the top, leave a bit of space) and then put the lid on it. Then you boil them again, and let them cool. Check out the tomato jarring blog for that, because the details are there and they are much better than I can write out here.

I realize this should say "LadyGirls Table" but that will be the next one!
After you’ve gone through all this trouble, you’ll possibly want to give away these jars, like you’re Martha Stewart or something. Possibly, if you’re anything like me, you secretly wish you were a super artsy cool graphic designer girl who just flits about town “seeing” art everywhere and has this amazing Instagram full of pictures of sepia-toned forks and leaves. If you had any inclination to be like that at all, you may spend a huge portion of your day on Pinterest, looking for cool fonts that you can re-create with a fine point Sharpie.

Maybe it’s time for me to go back to work. Anyway, enjoy the jam!  

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