Red Currant Jelly

Red currant jelly in a small canning jar with a spoon

The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 14 hrs
Cook: 30 mins
Canning Time: 5 mins
Total: 14 hrs 35 mins
Servings: 24 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
102 Calories
0g Fat
26g Carbs
1g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 24
Amount per serving
Calories 102
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 1mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 26g 9%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 24g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 15mg 77%
Calcium 13mg 1%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 104mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Red currants are a rare summer find. If you're lucky enough to have a bush at home, or your farmers' market carries these tiny and delicious berries when in season, try our recipe for a simple jelly and enjoy the sweet and tart flavor of this delicious fruit all year round. If the currants you find still have stems on, don't bother picking the fruit off as the stems themselves have pectin, which will further help the fruit to achieve a better gel. Plus, the stems add some tannins to the mix, which are the compounds at the root of the attractive astringent flavor in, for example, wine and coffee. If your currants are already picked, you'll still get a beautiful jelly.

Made with fruit, sugar, and water, this jelly doesn't need the addition of store-bought pectin, as the currants naturally possess a perfect combination of pectin and acidity, which ensures a good gel and texture without the need to add any stabilizer agent. The result is a delicious jelly with color as brilliant and bright as that of the fruit. We use measurements for a small-batch recipe as currants can be both difficult to find and expensive—unless you grow your own. But if you are blessed with an abundance of them, simply double the recipe.

This easy jelly is delicious serve alongside game, venison especially. But it pairs well with roast lamb, beef, and cornish hens. Use it on toast, scones, English muffins, or as an addition to your cheese plate. Before you start, make sure to have at hand jars that are suitable for sterilizing.


Steps to Make It

Cook and Strain the Fruit

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for red currant jelly recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Wash the currants, and if the stems are on don't pick them. You'll get rid of stems and seeds later when you strain their juice.

    Red currants in a metal colander

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Place the washed currants in a nonreactive pot—no cast iron unless it is enameled, and no aluminum. Add the water.

    Red currants in an enamel-lined Dutch oven

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Cook, stirring, over medium-low heat until the red currants have released all of their juice, about 20 minutes. While they are cooking, gently crush the fruit with a potato masher or the bottom of a wine bottle; this will help the fruit release the juice.

    Red currants being crushed with a potato masher in a Dutch oven

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Drain the red currants and their liquid overnight by pouring the mixture into either a dampened jelly bag or by lining a colander with butter muslin or several layers of cheesecloth. Pick your method and place a large bowl or pot underneath the bag or colander. Do not squeeze the jelly bag, muslin, or cheesecloth because that will result in a cloudy jelly.

    Red currant mush in a cheesecloth-lined colander placed over a glass bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Sterilize the Jars

  1. Sterilize your canning jars.

    Canning jars in a water bath canner with a wire rack

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Make and Can the Jelly

  1. Once strained, measure the red currant juice. You should have about 2 1/2 cups.

    Strained clear red currant juice in a measuring cup

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Pour the measured juice into a large, nonreactive pot and add an equal amount of sugar—for 2 1/2 cups of juice, add 2 1/2 cups of sugar.

    Red currant juice and sugar combined in an enamel-lined Dutch oven

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Bring the red currant juice and sugar to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly to dissolve the sugar. Continue to cook until the mixture reaches the gel point.

    Red currant mixture being stirred with a wooden spoon and a thermometer inserted

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  4. If the jelly is ready before the jars are sterilized, simply remove the jelly from the heat until the jars are ready. Reheat the jelly just back to a simmer before filling the jars.

    Thickened red currant jelly in a Dutch oven off the heat

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Ladle the hot, liquid jelly into the sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 to 1/2 inch headspace.

    Red currant jelly ladled from the Dutch oven into small canning jars

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  6. Screw on canning lids.

    Jars filled with jelly and closed with canning lids and bands

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  7. Process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes. Keep in mind that the jelly will still be hot and liquid when it comes out of the boiling water bath. It will gel as it cools.

    Canning jars immersed in a boiling water bath in a water bath canner

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  8. Once cooled, the jelly is ready to be used. Enjoy!

    Red currant jelly in a jar and on a spoon

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

What to Use in Place of Currant Jelly?

Finding currant jelly is not always easy, as it's seasonal, but there are some brands that you can find online or in specialized stores. If you can't find currant jelly, concord grape jelly or apple jelly are good substitutes to use; simply add a dash of lemon juice for some tartness. Alternatively, make a low-sugar cranberry sauce and add lemon zest and lemon juice.

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