[Sca-cooks] red currents

Stefan li Rous StefanliRous at austin.rr.com
Tue Jul 14 02:06:12 PDT 2009

Freda first asked:
<<< I just picked three quarts of red currents- as I'm new at this my  
cookbooks are limited to one! So if anyone has a period recipe for
these- preferably preserves >>>

And later qualified it with:
<<< Thanks, I read it yesterday- did not see any recipes for preserves,
several mentions of use in various dishes as an ingredient.>>>

Okay, I think Johnna (and others) thought that you were interested in  
other recipes for currants other than just for preserves. The file  
that Johnna mentioned is a good one for those.

However, most of the preserve/jelly/fruit paste/marmalade information  
I've saved, I've put in this file in the FOOD-SWEETS section:

marmalades-msg   (104K)  4/30/07    Period marmalades and fruit  
jellies and jams

 From this file:
I find in _The Closet of Sir Kenelm Digby Opened_ (1669) receipts for  
of Currants" and "Marmulate of Cherries" at least (This is only a quick
glance).  These seem to be straight-up fruit preserves, little  
different from
your father's prizewinning varieties.

Rudd Rayfield
Sir Kenelm Digby, The Closet of Sir Kenelm Digby Opened, 3rd edition,

Sweet-Meats of my Lady Windebanks

She maketh a past of Apricocks (which is both very beautiful and clear,
and tasteth most quick of the fruit) thus.  Take six pound of pared and
sliced Apricocks, put them in a high pot, which stop close, and set it
in a kettle of boiling water, till you perceive the flesh is all become
a uniform pulp; then put it out into your preserving pan or possenet,
and boil it gently till it be grown thick, stirring it carefully all
the while.  Then put two pound of pure Sugar to it, and mingle it well,
and let it boil gently, till you see the matter come to such a
thickness and solidity, that it will not stick to a plate.  Then make
it up into what form you will.  The like you may do with Raspes or

Redaction from 'Banquetting Stuffe' edited by C. Anne Wilson, chapter
4, Rare Conceits and Strange Delightes by Peter Brears.  (Edinburgh
University Press, Edinburgh, 1986, ISBN 0 7486 0103 1)

8 oz (225 g) (when prepared) peeled and stoned apricots
3 oz (75 g) sugar (Alys: 1/2 cup; 1 lb. apricots to 1/3 lb. sugar)

Place the apricots in a heatproof jar, seal the top with a piece of
cooking foil, and stand in a covered saucepan of boiling water for an
hour.  Pour the apricots into a small saucepan and gently boil,
stirring continuously until the paste is extremely thick, then add the
sugar and continue stirring.  When it is so thick that it has to be
spread across the bottom of the pan with a spoon, it may be turned on
to a lightly greased plate, worked into a shallow square block, and
allowed to cool.  It has a deep orange colour, and is every bit as good
today as Sir Kenelm found it three centuries ago.

Alys Katharine's revision:  (1 lb. apricots to 1/3 lb. sugar.   Ten
apricots (2-2 1/2") are slightly under one pound when peeled and

Slice the apricots, place in cooking container (Corningware 1 3/4 quart
pan holds a little over 2 lbs. of apricots).  Seal with foil and rubber
band for extra security.  Place in large pot, or larger Corningware
container.  If you put a lid on the outer container you needn't top it
off with boiling water as quickly.  Add boiling water and set on burner
at simmer for a good two hours.  The apricots should have fallen into a
mush by then.

To peel apricots easily, place them in boiling water for about two
minutes and then remove them.  The skins should peel off easily with a
knife or your fingers.  If you let them stay in the boiling water too
long they begin to cook and get mushy under the skin.  You can also
just slice the apricots without peeling them.  After they have cooked
for two or more hours, puree them in a blender.  It is best to use a
thick pan for cooking the pureed apricots and sugar.  If you simmer
them on a low heat you need not stir them continuously until the
mixture begins to thicken and erupt into "burps."  This "cooking down"
process can take 4 hours or so depending on the amount of apricots you
use and the temperature of the heat.  You will need to stir the mixture
more and more as it gets thicker.  The apricots are done when you can
drag your spoon through the mixture and it leaves a trail.  It should
also be pulling away from the sides of the pan at this time.

While this recipe doesn't call for a sugar syrup, you can make one by
taking an amount of sugar, wetting it enough to dissolve the sugar, and
heating it to hard crack stage.  Add it to the apricots, stirring as
you add it.  Then cook the mixture down over low heat until you can
make a trail with your spoon.  Pour into shallow, buttered pans and
allow to cool.  You can cut them into squares or into shapes using
small cookie or canape cutters.  Store between waxed paper or parchment
paper.   With proper storage they will keep for a year or so.

I've saved some more info on jellies as well, but I haven't put it  
online since I've been having problems deciding how to decide when  
some information is about a marmalade or something else, like preserve/ 
jelly/fruit paste. Sometimes the dividing line between these is a bit  
fuzzy. I can send you a copy of the raw file or if I can solve where  
to put it, I can see about getting it online. A bit of info in it:

Recipes for the marmalades of home-grown fruits other than quinces
appeared in the preserving books all through the seventeenth century.
The latter ones show a somewhat softer conserve, still dense and sticky,
but potted, not boxed, made from such fruit fruits as raspberries,
mulberries, cherries, white or red currants, gooseberries, apricots or
damsons, and it was for this type of conserve that the name "jam" was
coined. P.45

The revised edition of The Book of Marmalade is still in print. The
Florilegium carries a number of endorsements regarding the book.


When looking for something in the Florilegium, especially if you can't  
find a file on what you seek, try plugging that term and/or similar  
search terms into the search engine on the top page of the site.  
Plugging "red currant" into the exact match box turns up several  
recipes including what look to be fish and fish pie recipes.

THLord Stefan li Rous    Barony of Bryn Gwlad    Kingdom of Ansteorra
    Mark S. Harris           Austin, Texas          StefanliRous at austin.rr.com
**** See Stefan's Florilegium files at:  http://www.florilegium.org ****

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