Red Currant Jelly

July 21, 2016(updated on August 30, 2021)

Tart, sweet, and gorgeously ruby-hued, this red currant jelly is the perfect way to make the most of a relatively small amount of currants.

Six half pints of fresh red currants.

Over the years, I’ve canned nearly everything there is to be canned. I’ve done every stripe of stonefruit, all the common berries, and have pickled nearly everything I could. The list of things I’d not worked with was relatively short. However, there were a few notable things that had thus far avoided my jam pan. Chief among them, currants.

Red currants in a yellow colander

It wasn’t that I was disinterested in currants. The issue was simply that they were either impossible to find or cost-prohibitive when I did come across a small display. And so they remained on firmly on the list of things I wanted to experience but just hadn’t gotten to yet.

Happily, Ben Wenk of Three Springs Fruit Farm has started growing an array of hard-to-find fruits, including gooseberries and currants in multiple colors. A couple weeks ago, he cut me a deal on a mixed flat of currants so that I could finally see what all the fuss was about.

Red currants in a stainless steel pot on the stove.

I brought them home and promptly consulted Pam Corbin’s The River Cottage Preserves Handbook (like I mentioned in my gooseberry jam post, she is my first stop any time I’m working with unfamiliar fruit that is common in the UK). I followed her instructions for simmering the fruit in water until soft.

Three cups currant juice, soon to become red currant jelly.

Somewhere in my apartment, I have a jelly bag and draining rig, but I could not put my hands on it the day I started this jelly. I used a nut milk bag to separate the pulp from the juice and it worked nicely.

I also flouted the advice* in the book and squeezed the heck of out of the currant solids, trying to wrest out every last bit of juice (I only started with a little less than two pounds of red currants, so I wanted to get as much from them as was possible). I wound up with three cups of juice, when all was done.

Red currant juice in a pot, soon to become red currant jelly.

Once you’ve extracted the juice, the work of making the red currant jelly is quick. Currants are quite pectin-rich, so all they need is sugar and a few minutes of boiling and they’re ready to set into jelly. I used Pam’s ratio of 1 cup of juice to 1 cup of sugar. While I normally opt for lower sugar preserves, currants are so tart and tannic, that in this case, the sugar doesn’t feel at all overwhelming.

Red currant jelly in assorted jars.

Following Pam’s instructions, I brought the juice to a boil first and then added the sugar. Once combined, I noticed signs of setting within five minutes. The temperature was a gel-friendly 221F and the droplets hanging off the spatula were thick and viscous. In the end, I had four half pints of glowing, gorgeously red jelly.

*Both Pam and conventional wisdom says that if you squeeze the bag, you’ll end up with cloudy jelly. I don’t particularly care if my jelly isn’t perfectly clear, so I pressed and squeezed that bag. I got an additional 1/2 cup of juice for my efforts, so it was well worth it.

5 from 4 votes

Red Currant Jelly


  • 3 cups red currant juice
  • 3 cups granulated sugar


  • Prepare a boiling water bath and four half pint jars.
  • Pour the currant juice into a low, wide, non-reactive pot and bring to a boil. Once it begins to roll, stir in the sugar.
  • Boil for 5-8 minutes, until the jelly begins to set. Once it passes a set test, remove it from the heat.
  • Funnel into prepared jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.


To make red currant juice, simmer fruit with water for 45 to 50 minutes. Use 1 cup of water for every pound of fruit. Pour liquid and pulp into a jelly bag and strain overnight. Ignore instructions to avoid squeezing the bag and give it good, solid press. That juice is precious!

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5 from 4 votes

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26 thoughts on "Red Currant Jelly"

  • I saw a small amount of red currants at my neighborhood market on Tuesday. They were not priced but I’m guessing they were expensive. I would like to try this. Have you ever made sand plum jelly? It was a common roadside fruit in OK where I grew up. It’s delicious. Also I saw a recipe in the recent copy of Bon Appetit for salted honey cantelope jam. Have you done anything with cantelope?

  • Looks yummy! I got a new berry to try this year too – goumi berry – tart and tannic like your red currants. It turned out to be a beautiful rosey pink color and quite tasty.

  • There are an absolute ton of wild red currants growing in southcentral Alaska and they have quickly become my favorite jelly-making fruit. Last year I mixed them with salmonberries – possibly mah favorite jelly so far!

  • I squeeze the bag, too. I don’t enter into any fairs so clarity is not an issue and I like to have every bit of goodness.

  • I grew up with white and red currants. At my own house, I have a red and black currant bush. They are my ultimate favorite. Season has passed and the birds had their fill. A litte batch of strawberry, rhubarb and currant jam is a must every year. In the past I have made currant jam and it is precious commodity!
    I am so glad you have now gotten a chance to try them.

  • Currant jelly is absolutely my favorite. I’ve missed it so since I left Germany and can no longer get red currants in enough supply. There are commercial versions, available in some places, but they don’t touch homemade. I’m glad that you finally got to make some! It is so wonderful over cream cheese or creme fraiche. Enjoy!

  • My parents have some black currants on their land and last year I picked some. I extracted the juice with my pressure cooker. A brief cook of 3-4 minutes with a small amount of water and the fruit in a steamer basket at the bottom makes the perfect clear juice. No straining required and the fruit is practically white because only the pulp remains. I have done this with tart cherries as well and Saskatoon berries (juneberries for some) with great success. I have yet to try red currants but we have a wild berry here that is similar called a high bush cranberry which i have made jelly with in the same way.

  • Do you cook the currants on the stem? I would think that could give the juice a bit of a woody flavor.

    1. I have the same question. I bought a half flat of red and black currants today and was hoping to cook them tomorrow. Also should I follow same recipe with black currants?

      1. I know it’s been a year, but I also have the same question. I’m fortunate enough to have come across a large quantity of red currants, but removing the stems takes forever. I’d love to know whether I can skip this step in the future.

        1. I simmered the currants with the stems on and didn’t feel like it negatively impacted the flavor of the jelly.

  • Thanks for this! This year in the Pacific Northwest our red currant bushes were prolific and I ended up with about 15 lbs of fresh currants, that I immediately juiced and froze. I think I have about 12 cups juice in the freezer. Good to know that you don’t need pectin. I cooked some without stems, and the second batch I juiced in a juicer, stems and all, then strained again and brought to a boil before freezing. My sister and I picked for 5 hours each to get this quantity, so that is why currants are so expensive.

  • Do you remember how many lbs of currants you started with to get 3 cups of juice? My mom has currants and I’m going to go pick some today… I want to have a rough idea of how much I should bring home. Thank you!

    1. Last week I picked my currants, and 2#’s made exactly three cups of puree’.
      After simmering my berries for a few minutes in just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan, I sent mine through the food mill to extract the juice. I didn’t strain the juice to try an get a clear jelly, just made mine like a jam. 🙂 It made 4 half-pints with enough left over for a good fridge jar. If I’d had a quarter-pint jar ready, it would have been about the perfect size.

  • 5 stars
    Great recipe Marisa! I made it recently as a half recipe, because the Red Currants were pricey. I had never tasted them before, so I sampled one before cooking them. I have to say, I wasn’t impressed with the nondescript bitter taste. I guessed the sugar must make them palatable, because so many people make jelly with them. Wow! What a difference the sugar made. I really like the sweet tart flavor. I’ve had it with cream cheese on toast, and I think it would be great as a condiment for cheese and meats.

    I have a question though. Do you simmer the berries and water in a pot with a cover or uncovered? I used a cover, because I was afraid I would lose too much liquid to evaporation. I cooked 1 lb. 2oz. of berries with 1 cup + 2 tablespoons of water. After the 45-50 minutes simmering and the straining process, I got 2 1/2 cups juice. According to your recipe, my quota should’ve been slightly more than 1 1/2 cups. I concluded you probably simmer them uncovered, so I gently boiled and stirred the juice with the sugar for quite a while to evaporate some of the liquid. And sure enough–when the ratio of juice to sugar was right, the mixture gelled very quickly and I got nearly 3 1/2 quarter pints of jelly for my efforts. Thanks for your recipe!

    Before making this recipe, I compared it with others and read the related comments for each. I think when people had problems getting the jelly to set up properly, they strained the juice from the berries prior to any cooking. The pectin is present in the skin and seeds of the berries, so you need to cook them whole with the water to release the pectin into the juice.

    1. It’s been ages since I made this recipe, but I do think that I simmered it uncovered. I’m so glad to hear that it worked out well for you!

    1. I probably wouldn’t reduce the water by much. But it’s such a forgiving technique that however you choose to do it will be fine.

  • 5 stars
    Marisa, you are the QUEEN of jars!

    I want to make this recipe, but I have 1200g of frozen currants from my garden (stems on).

    I plan to process them by simmering in a bit of water, then run them through a food mill to make the juice. I prefer the rustic cloudiness and bits of fruit vs the jelly bag. I bought Pomona’s to use at your recommendation, but it seems this jelly could set without it. The Pomonas instructions say processing mechanically “damages” the pectin. Would that include a food mill?

    I read that freezing decreases the pectin in fruit – is that true? Do you think it would still set up without additional pectin? I also read there is pectin in currant stems, so maybe it would help.

    And I have read your post on decreasing sugar in jams – do you think this one could be decreased by 25% – 50% (your 2:1 ratio) and still set well with decent shelf life?

    Thank you for your no-nonsense excellent advice! This site is a gem!

    1. Just know that with a jelly like this, sugar is essential to achieving set. If you reduce the sugar, it may not set up. Jellies are different from jams in that manner, because with a jam, the pulp of the fruit is also helping you with the set. You don’t have that to fall back on with jelly, so if you reduce the sugar, you will probably end up with a very thick syrup in place of the jelly.

  • 5 stars
    Haha, part 2 to my questions above (sorry, for some reason can’t reply on my own post)

    I used your recipe ratio for making the juice (1 cup water to 1 lb currants), so 2.5 cups of water for 2.7 lbs frozen currants. I cooked it partially covered, partially not. After running through the food mill, I’m left with 8 cups of gorgeous pulpy juice.

    This seems like a lot of yield, so I have the same concern as a previous poster. For canning safety, should I be concerned if the water ratio is too high? Diluting the acidity? Should cooking “uncovered” be specified?

    If (like commentor Frieda) I add the sugar 1:1 and cook it down, if it hits the gelling stage is that a sign that all things are good to proceed with canning?

    Most University Extension sites say 1 lb of fruit to 1 cup finished juice is normal yield. But obviously since I only added 2.5 cups water, 5.5 cups is just the currants.

    I will probably reduce to 6 cups and then proceed in two batches. Just thought this may be useful to others.

    The NCHFP website links to all things “currant” have been removed. Ball has zero currant canning recipes; Bernadin has a few but all require pectin. Of course, there are a billion cowboy recipes. I defer to you lol.

    Thank you again 🙂

    1. Currants are very, very high in acid so even if there’s more water in your starting juice that in mine, the finished product will still be safe. Particularly since the set occurs when the necessary amount of water has cooked out. Once it hits the gel stage, you can feel confident that the acid concentration is more than sufficient for safety.

      Also, it’s strange to me that they have removed all their currant recipes, but I guess they haven’t had the budget to test them in some time and so don’t have up to date numbers.