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Red Currant Jelly

Red Currant Jelly

Red Currant Jelly
© Denzil Green

Red Currant Jelly is a clear, scarlet-tinted seedless jelly made from the juice of red currants, water and sugar.

Red Currants are very acidic (average pH of 2.8, range 2.5 to 3.2 [1], so no added acid is needed to make the jelly safe for canning.

Additionally, no pectin is necessarily required in making it, if a lot of sugar is supplied to interact with the pectin. In making a sugar-free version, though, a pectin that will gel without sugar needs to be added.

Bar-Le-Duc is a famous French red currant jelly. In French cooking, this jelly is used along with creams to flavour sauces for wine-braised boar or venison. This saucing technique is called "grand veneur." You can use it with beef and pork as well.

The English like to serve red currant jelly with lamb. It's also the basis of the English sauce known as Cumberland Sauce.

Cooking Tips

Here are two versions of a red currant jelly recipe.

The first is a traditional version, with no added pectin but with lots of refined white sugar added instead. The second is a reduced or sugar-free version that uses no-sugar needed pectin.

Each makes approximately 250 ml (1 cup / 8 oz) of red currant jelly. Double or triple the batches as desired.

You will need 1/4 litre ( 250 ml / 1 cup / 8 oz) or smaller jars with two-piece lids.

For both recipes

Wash red currants. There is no need to remove the stems (aka "ribs"); you can just leave them on. In fact, many feel that the stems provide added pectin for a good set.

Place red currants and water in non-reactive saucepan.

  • Per 500 g (1 pound / 3 US measuring cups) of red currants, use 125 ml (1/2 cup / 4 oz ) of water.

Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, covered, stirring occasionally and mashing gently every now and then until you have a pulp -- about 20 to 30 minutes. (Note: mash by hand, don't use a blender, food processor or anything electrical as that will damage the pectin.)

Spoon into a jellybag or cloth to drain, suspended over a bowl. Let stand and drain for 2 to 4 hours, or overnight. When letting the juice drain, don't squeeze the bag or cloth to speed it up, or your jelly may well get cloudy.

This should yield somewhere in the range of 250 ml / 1 cup / 8 oz of juice.

Short of juice? Put the drained fruit pulp into a microwave-safe jug. Stir in a little extra water. Mash again. Boil in microwave for a few minutes (or you can do this in a pot on the stove.) Then put back into jelly bag to drain.

Traditional sugar version of red currant jelly

Put this juice and sugar in a non-reactive saucepan according to the following quantities:

  • Per 250 ml (1 cup / 8 oz) of juice, add 250 g (1 cup / 8 oz in weight) of sugar. You can reduce the sugar a bit if you like your jelly tarter in taste.

Stir to dissolve sugar, bring to a boil and let boil rapidly, skimming as needed.

(Note: no lemon juice is required as the acidity of red currants -- average 2.8 pH -- is high enough on its own to provide safety.)

After a bit, remove the saucepan from heat. Put a teaspoonful of jam onto a cold saucer. Let it cool a few minutes, and run a finger through it. If it wrinkles, it's done. If not, put saucepan back on heat, boil a few more minutes, then test again. Repeat until you get the wrinkled effect.

Remove from heat, and can the jelly as per directions further below.

Sugar-free or reduced-sugar version of red currant jelly

Per 250 ml (1 cup / 8 oz) of juice:

  • 3/4 teaspoon Pomona's pectin
  • 1/2 teaspoon calcium water
  • Sweetener of choice: Either (1) up to 125 g (1/2 cup) of white sugar or Splenda®, OR (2) 2 tablespoons of honey, OR (3) 1 teaspoon of liquid stevia OR (4) another sweetener au choix, with quantities determined by you.

Put a few tablespoons of the juice in a small bowl. Measure out the pectin powder required, putting it on a small plate if needed, then add it all at once to the juice and whisk it all in quickly. Set aside. In a pot, put the juice (cold or room temperature), the calcium water, and the pectin powder mixture you just made. With a spoon (not a whisk as it can cause bubbles), stir to mix evenly, then stir in sweetener of choice. Put pot on stove, and bring to a boil. Then boil for 2 minutes, stirring regularly. If you are using refined white sugar, make sure it all dissolves. [2] After the two minutes, remove from heat. With a spoon, carefully skim off and discard any surface foam. Then can it as per directions below.

Canning red currant jelly

Use 1/4 litre ( 250 ml / 1 cup / 8 oz) or smaller jars with two-piece lids.

Pour into jars leaving 1/2 cm (1/4 inch) of headspace, wipe rims, put lids on.

Process either via water bath canner, or steam canner for 10 minutes. Adjust processing time for altitude.

(As per the National Center for Home Food Preservation and USDA, there is no need to sterilize the jars or lids in advance if the processing time is 10 minutes or longer; just wash the jars.)


[1] IQF Red Currants. The PROgram Company. Accessed July 2015 at http://www.profruit.com/currants.html#rcur.

[2] Source: Developing or Converting Recipes for Cooked Jam or Jelly Using Pomona’s Pectin. Accessed July 2015.

See also:


Bar-Le-Duc Jelly; Cane Jelly; Jelly Moulds; Jelly; Linen Crash Jelly Bag; Maple Jelly; Pea Jelly; Quince Paste; Red Currant Jelly

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Oulton, Randal. "Red Currant Jelly." CooksInfo.com. Published 26 September 2010; revised 18 July 2015. Web. Accessed 05/20/2018. <http://www.cooksinfo.com/red-currant-jelly>.

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