Blackcurrant Bayleaf Conserve | HOMEGROWN KITCHEN

On a hot Sunday afternoon recently, we headed out for a late lunch at our friends Tama & Koichi’s. If you live in Nelson and like sushi you will quite possibly have eaten at Tama & Koichi’s fantastic Sushi Bar – Ikko Sushi in the Marble Arch Arcade (near No. 1 Shoe’s). There super fresh and inexpensive sushi is one of our families favourite places to eat out.

However, this is not a post about sushi. This is about a forage in a garden and a promise of jam… On a tour of their very tidy garden I noticed 3 blackcurrant bushes. At closer inspection I found the bushes laden in ready-to-pick fruit. But as Tama explained to me, they work 14 hour days (4.30am – 6.30pm straight, these guys work hard!) so she doesn’t have time for her own garden let alone cooking from it. Well… never one to let food go to waste and I love to try something new (I have never cooked blackcurrants before), I offered to make jam from the berries and split the profits. Tama’s eyes lit up, ‘oh yes please’. I think I was excited as she was…

Blackcurrant Bayleaf Conserve | HOMEGROWN KITCHEN

Blackcurrant & Bay Leaf Conserve

This recipe is loosely based on James Wong’s recipe for Elder berry & Eucalyptus Jelly from his book Grow Your Own Drugs – A Year with James Wong. If you don’t have blackcurrants on hand this recipe could also be made with other summer berries such as boysenberries, raspberries, blackberries etc.

  1. Harvest blackcurrants with the help of eager little hands.
  2. Weigh the currants and add the same liquid quantity of water. For example I had 350g black currants so I added 350ml water.
  3. Put the currants and water in a heavy based sauce-pan with 2 bay leaves and the juice of 1 lemon. Make sure the lemon pips go in as well as they have valuable pectin in them for setting the jam.
  4. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Cool a little then strain through a sieve using the back of a wooden spoon to press as much of the pulp as possible. Discard the leftover skin and seeds.
  6. Weigh the pulp and pour into a saucepan. Now weigh the same quantity of sugar. I had 385g pulp so added 385g sugar. Add this to the pan and bring to a boil, stirring so the sugar dissolves and doesn’t burn.
  7. Simmer for approx. 30 – 45 minutes, stirring regularly, until the syrup reaches setting point. This can be tested be dropping a little jam on a cold (from the fridge) plate, wait 1 minute and test. The jam should wrinkle when pressed and not run when the plate is tipped.
  8. Sterilise small jars – clean them thoroughly in hot soapy water and air dry on a rack. Once dry fill with boiling water and leave for 1 minute. Sterilise the lids in a bowl of boiling water for 1 minute. Tip out the water and air dry – they will dry fast. Set the hot jars on a wooden board and fill immediately with hot conserve. Screw on the lids as they will seal as the mixture cools. (I ended up with 2 jars as pictured – not a lot but so worth the effort.)
  9. That is it. Give half to the lovely owner of the blackcurrant bushes, and keep half for a sweet conserve with soft goat cheese and toast.

Blackcurrant Bayleaf Conserve | HOMEGROWN KITCHEN

Blackcurrant Bayleaf Conserve | HOMEGROWN KITCHEN


Join the Conversation

  1. Lovely photo journal and black currant conserve. Waving to you all the way from the US of A.

  2. I don’t think I have ever had blackcurrents before! They can’t be as common as berries.. Love the shot of the toast with the jam. And what a beautiful idea, to harvest someones produce and share the jam 🙂

    1. Nicola Author says:

      Hi Christina. Blackcurrants are rather tart on their own so making them into jam or a sauce is a good idea. I love giving food as a gift and our friends Tama & Koichi were very happy with their jam.

  3. Hello Nicola, Did you use a bay leaf in the jam? Or was it just for decoration? Felt confused as it is called blackcurrant and bay leaf jam?

    1. Hi Maria, Yes you do add bay leaf as per the recipe:
      ‘Put the currants and water in a heavy based sauce-pan with 2 bay leaves and the juice of 1 lemon.’
      I hope that helps to clarify the recipe 🙂

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