Johannisbeere Jam (Currant)

We made currant jam.

June 21st is the day currants typically are ready to pick in our area of Germany. Last year they were quite late and didn't ripen until the 10th of July, but it was a bountiful harvest. Since reading the Little House series, my 12 year old asks to make jam every year. We tried to make peach jam one year, but it was quite runny and didn't work very well. Jam making is a skill I never acquired and so it intimidates me a little. My landlord, on the other hand is an expert. She makes jam every year. Quince, currant, plum, blackberry, raspberry, strawberry, cherry........ I asked if we could help her.

What we ended up doing was making jam two days in a row. The first day it was just me and the kids following directions from the internet and hoping to do it right. The second day we helped our landlord. Both days were fun and resulted in jam that tasted good. Here's what we did.

Day 1 - Jam Making with Me and the Kids

First we got down all of our random jam jars and searched for matching lids.

Next we sterilized the jars and by boiling them for 10 minutes.

I spent about 1 hour picking berries and the kids spent about 2 hours pulling them from the stems. They did a fantastic job sticking with this task while I cooked lunch and helped when I had time.

I washed the berries and the kids mashed them with the potato masher.

We added a small amount of water and a large amount of sugar and brought the berries to a boil while stirring constantly. (1 cup of sugar to 900 grams of berries)

After the jam boiled we let it sit a few minutes before putting it into jars.

Day 2 - Jam Making with our Landlord
Our landlord's father, me and all three kids spent about 2 hours picking berries.

We picked black currants, red currants and a few raspberries.

The berries were washed and placed into a large steamer with the stems on.

The bottom portion held the water and the berries were in the top.

After they were steamed for one hour juice began to run out.

The juice continued to pour out of the steamer for another hour.

Sugar and gelatin were added to the juice and the mixture was heated while stirring constantly. Once it began to boil we set the timer for 3 minutes and continued boiling and stirring before removing it from the heat.

The directions I followed did not require gelatin as they stated currants have a sufficient amount of natural pectin to make them gel. Our landlord said she adds gelatin to all of her jam. The jam we made with her was definitely thicker.

So here's a question for the jam experts out there. Both my landlord and the internet said not to use metal while making the jam. When I asked her why she said "that's the way my mother taught me". Do you know the answer?


  1. I don't know the answer to your question and I am quite certain I've used plenty of metal successfully. :) My sis-in-law from Germany taught me to make jam/jelly with only fruit and sugar. I think she said to use half as much sugar as fruit. Then boil it until it is the right consistency. I have tried it with less sugar also. This is now my no-fail way to make jam! Why use pectin or gelatin? Simply boil it down. It has so much flavor! We love pear jam made this way. With the larger amount of sugar, it is better preserved. I guess technically it would be what you call preserves.

    1. I think sugar is my jam problem. We don't eat much sugar, so it's really difficult for me to add so much to fruit. I've never added the entire amount the recipe calls for and my jam always gets moldy after a short time. My landlord's on the other hand, lasts the entire year long if we can eat it that slowly.


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