Our garden has thrived during this very hot summer. We have enjoyed a particularly good harvest of red currants, gooseberries, and black raspberries. Every other year I make raspberry and red currant jelly, but this year I wanted to try something new by combining our red gooseberries with the currants. I also added plums, strawberries, and black raspberries for sweetness and complexity. It is a beautiful jelly.
Red Currant Plum Berry Jelly
2-1/2 cups red currants, rinsed
2-1/2 cups pitted and roughly-chopped black plums
1-1/2 cups red gooseberries, trimmed of tops
3/4 cup chopped strawberries
1/2 cup black raspberries
3 cups water
4 cups of fruit juice from above fruit
1 cup boiling water
6-1/2 cups sugar
1 pouch of Certo liquid pectin
For the Fruit Juice: In a 4-quart pot combine fruit with 3 cups water. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat, then lower the heat to medium low and cook for 25 minutes. Use a potato masher to mash fruit and release juice. Take a 4-cup glass measuring cup and put a small fine strainer on top. Line the strainer with cheese cloth. Slowly pour some of the fruit mash into the strainer. Let the juice drain into the measuring cup. Continue adding the fruit mash to the cheesecloth and let drain for 30 minutes or so. You should have 3 cups of fruit juice. Slowly pour 1 cup of boiling water through the fruit mash leavings in the cheesecloth-lined strainer and let it drain through the strainer until you get a total of 4 cups of fruit juice. You may need a bit more boiling water. Once you have the four cups of juice, discard mashed berries.
For the Jelly: Run 8 half-pint jars through a dishwasher cycle to sterilize the jars while you are making the fruit juice. A friend taught me that you can sterilize the clean jars in the oven by placing them rim side down on a half sheet pan. Put it in the oven. Pour about 3 cups of boiling water into the sheet pan and let the jars steam at 275 degrees for 45 minutes. Boil lids and rims so they are sterilized as well. Fill a waterbath canner with enough water to cover jars at least 1.5 inches and bring to a boil. Pour 4 cups of prepared fruit juice into a jam pot or 4-quart pot. Add sugar to the fruit juice and, using a spoon, stir to dissolve sugar. Cook on high heat until it comes to a rolling boil. Stir constantly. Boil for 1 minute at hard boil, then remove from burner and slowly stir in the foil packet of liquid pectin. Mix well. Skim off any foam jelly that may have accumulated. Pour jelly into the sterilized half-pint jars, leaving about 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe rims with a damp paper towel to clean off any jelly. Screw on lids and rims. Place jars in boiling waterbath. Bring water back to the boil and waterbath 10 minutes at sea level or 15 minutes at high altitude. Remove jars from waterbath onto a tea towel and let cool completely. Do not move jars for 24-48 hours so the jelly will set. Yields 8 half-pint jars.