Le Rêve Redcurrant Jelly

20150617_155951 DSC_050320150624_121556DSC_0507DSC_0509DSC_0512There’s a bit of a story to this so please bear with me. When we first bought the house in 2010 I scoured the supermarkets so I could see what I would need to find elsewhere. One of the things I couldn’t find was redcurrant jelly. Panic! How would I ever make my Dirty Ducky dish? How would I enrich  a gravy? The stress was mounting so on a regular trip to Aldi in 2012 I picked up some redcurrant twigs, shoved them in a pot and took them out to France on the next trip. There was nowhere to put them but we managed to clear a patch next to a hedge and stuck them in the ground. The thing is I’ve never been here properly in June until this year so it was exciting to see my cheap little twigs absolutely festooned with vibrant fruit. Now, if you taste one of these gorgeous berries they are actually very tart but turned into jelly they can enrich a sauce, be melted down as a sweet sauce with ice-cream, cheesecake, fruit flan or pavlova. Equally as the jelly is so clear the light shines through, it makes a pretty gift if you tart up your jars with ribbons and labels. Here’s what I did.

  • Picked 1.3kg/3lbs redcurrants, washed them and took them off the stem.
  • Stick them in a large heavy pan with 600ml/1pint water and simmer 30 mins, stirring occasionally.
  • Set up a jelly strainer or sieve with muslin liner and gradually ladle in the fruit pulp.
  • After it stops dripping (perhaps 2-3 hours but don’t squeeze!) measure the liquid allowing 450g/1lb sugar for  600ml/1 pint juice.
  • Put sugar, juice and a squeeze of lemon back in the clean pan and stir until dissolved.
  • Boil for about ten minutes, the thermometer should get to 105 degrees but if you are not using one take a teaspoon of the jelly and plop it onto a cold plate. it should wrinkle when you drag the spoon through.
  • Use a slotted spoon to remove any frothy scummy bits and then pour into sterilized jars.

This was enough to make 4  225g jars which are the sort you buy cranberry sauce in from most supermarkets.

Top tips:

  • Make sure you sterilise the jars. Either put in the dishy for a hot wash or I stick them in the oven in a roasting tray with lids, heat to 110 degrees/1/4 gas for 30 mins. Do this so that you are putting the jelly into warmed jars.
  • Whenever you are finishing a jar of something wash it up and save it – it costs a fortune to buy little jars.

So there you have it – easy peasy jelly. I was so proud of what I made ready for my Dirty Ducky dish. Unfortunately I just happened to be in the conserve section of the supermarket and I found a jar of ‘ Gelée Groseilles’, otherwise known as rotten redcurrant jelly! Years of waiting for redcurrants was all in vain as it was only E1.45 for 370g ( in UK  25p per 100g). Total cost for me was a bag of sugar.

Anyway it tastes great and there are still loads left for the birds!

Keep in touch to see how I use the jelly in my Dirty Duckie recipes.


Weddings and Jelly….

This week we were lucky enough to have been invited to a French wedding. How exciting! The strange thing is that we had never met either the bride or groom but it seems to be custom here for the parents to invite their neighbours to the ceremonies. We sort of know our neighbours, I mean we can just about make out their house across the field so we don’t bump into them very often. Occasionally their little dog, who lives outside, trots down the road and says ‘bonjour’ to our dogs but mostly it’s waving and, when we do meet the normal kissing.

So curious, and a little nervous, we planned the afternoon. My mother had a hair appointment and asked if we should cover our arms and heads seeing that France is a mostly Catholic country, especially in the countryside. We were told that arms should be covered so with modesty in mind I donned a beige shift dress, jacket and shoes.

Well, I don’t think it really mattered! The bride looked beautiful in a very elegant straight white dress but with the guests it was clearly a case of anything goes. The men and boys all seemed to be wearing cloth caps and the women, well it is a case of ‘anything goes’. All in all it was very entertaining and we couldn’t wait for the next bit.

So all the guests then go on to the ‘vin d’honneur’ which is basically a drinks reception with nibbles before the close friends and family have the wedding breakfast. By now it was about 5pm, and as I’d been on a bit of a diet I was starving. Luckily there was a choice of wine in a fairly decent sized glass! Normally it’s Rosé  but there was a choice .What surprised me were the nibbles and no….it wasn’t jelly, it was little doughnuts and door wedge sized hunks of brioche loaf. How on earth do you elegantly consume that whilst holding wine? Well the bride sauntered over, took a slice and expertly folded it with one hand into  a sort of mammoth sandwich thingy…..I’ll say no more. She still looked elegant but I wasn’t chancing it!

By the time we got back I was starving but I was a good girl and had some chicken on the barbie with salad but what I really fancied was my Dirty Ducky Dauphinoise with Raunchy redcurrant sauce. Stand by for my recipe for redcurrant jelly.