Soft fruit jellies produce less yields than jams, but the pulp left in the jelly bag does not have to be consigned to the composter or the bin. The pulp from strong flavoured black currants can be transformed into a fruit cheese. I first came across this economical use of fruit pulp during a WI Preservation Certificate in 1993. My tutor made an Elderberry and Apple Jelly and a Cheese from the same batch of fruit. I’ve often thought about a two in one recipe and many years later, here are recipes for blackcurrants, combined with Sweet Basil, which is at its best right now, in pots.
Blackcurrant & Sweet Basil Jelly
Makes 2.25kg for each 900ml juice
60g sweet basil
1.15 litres water
Granulated cane sugar
1) Place the currants in a large preserving pan. Tie up the Basil stalks and leaves in a piece of muslin. Add the muslin bag to the pan. Cover with the water and bring the pan to the boil. Turn the heat down and simmer gently, until the fruit is soft and pulpy.
2) Drain the muslin bag against the inside of the pan, Discard the bag and mash the fruit. Tip the pulp into a jelly bag suspended over a bowl and leave to drip for 20 minutes. Do not be tempted to squeeze the bag unless you want a muddy jelly.
3) Carefully remove the pulp, place in a bowl and set aside.
4) Measure the juice for the jelly, and for each 600ml weigh out 450g granulated cane sugar. Try to work with no more than 900ml juice at any one time. Warm the sugar in an ovenproof bowl, 120C for 15 minutes.
5) Pour the juice into a clean preserving pan and bring to the boil. Add the sugar and dissolve.
6) Boil the jelly and test for a set after 4 minutes. As soon as setting point is reached, turn off the heat and leave the jelly to stand for a few minutes.
7) Remove any scum with a metal spoon, pot into clean warm jars and seal immediately with new twist top lids. Leave the jars upright and undisturbed to set.
Blackcurrant and Sweet Basil Cheese
Makes around 8 x 125g ramekins.
1) Place the pulp from the jelly bag into a clean pan with 30g sweet basil tied with string. Add 600ml water to the pan.
Simmer the mixture gently for 30 minutes. Remove the sweet basil.
2) Rub the pulp thoroughly through a sieve into a bowl, you should have 750g of purée. Place the purée in a clean pan and warm 750g sugar in an ovenproof bowl for 15 minutes 140C.
3) Heat the purée and add the warmed sugar. Stir to dissolve, increase the heat and boil for 5-10 minutes, until a spoon dragged through the base of the pan leaves a clean trail. To avoid the consistency of the cheese becoming sticky, do not over-boil.
4) Pot the cheese into ramekins or small glass dishes, brushed with glycerine. Seal the moulds with waxed discs. Leave until cold. To serve, turn out the cheese on to a plate.