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Natural Awakenings Milwaukee Magazine

Preserve the Taste of Early Summer Fruits with Currant Jam

Jun 01, 2023 12:00AM ● By Tiffany Hinton
The first official day of summer is the solstice, the longest day of the year, June 21. With summer comes the promise of fresh berries and the tart sweetness of fruit filled with antioxidants. Currants, which are native to the Netherlands, Denmark and areas around the Baltic Sea, made their way to America over the last several hundred years, first with the ship trade in the 17th century. The fruit-producing shrub likes moist, cool northern climates and grows well in Midwest backyards. Currants come in both black and red varieties. The berries are high in vitamin C, making this fruit a common ingredient in immune-boosting elixirs and syrups.

Get currants at local farmers markets and some grocery stores. They can also be grown in a backyard garden. The ripe fruit can be picked, washed and frozen for future use in this recipe. Freeze the currants in an airtight container for up to three months.

This jam recipe is a bit tart and sweet at the same time, and goes nicely on toast or in a baked pastry for breakfast, or paired with a cheese for an appetizer.

YIELD: 2 pints

Zest of 1 lemon
1⅛ cups white sugar
1 vanilla pod, split lengthwise and seeds scraped (reserve the pod)
3½ cups currants, washed and air dried

Zest the lemon and set it aside.

In a large, heat-proof pan, add lemon zest, sugar, vanilla seeds, vanilla pod and currants. Cook for 40 minutes over medium heat until 220º F is reached to allow the jam to set, stirring to ensure it does not stick and burn in the pan.

Pour into prepared, sterile, glass jars, removing the vanilla pod. Attach new canning lids, tighten and turn upside-down to cool completely. The jars of jam should seal and allow for storage in a cool place for up to 6 months. If the lid of the cool jam pops when you press it, store in the fridge for up to 2 months. The popping sound means the lid did not seal. Additional canning instructions can be found online.

If reusing jars, make sure to boil them in hot water or run through a dishwasher on hot to sterilize them. This is a great sustainable practice to reuse jars from old jellies or glass yogurt containers. They make a great size to give to neighbors as a gift from the garden.

Recipe courtesy of Tiffany Hinton, founder of Cultivating Guts. Connect online at @iamtiffanyhinton and listen to her podcast, Cultivating Guts, on Spotify or iTunes.