Black Clove Currant Jam

Homemade jam made with black currants and sugar cooked until the fruits release their pectin and all that sweetness and juiciness is concentrated to a perfect fruity syrup. We have been making batches of black currant jam and eating it in the simplest way: on toast. This is the best jam I have ever tasted and you can find the recipe in my book, The Kitchen Gardener’s Handbook. You won’t find jars of American black clove currant jam at the grocery store. Don’t be confused, these are not the black currants that Europeans are so fond of. (That plant is Ribes nigrum and is native to Europe).  They are not the same dried currants you use when making Welsh cookies or granola. Those dried fruits come from grapes. (Vitis vinifera). These black currants are from a native American shrub with the scientific name, Ribes odoratum. The variety we planted is ‘Crandall’. The shrub is sometimes called clove currant because of it’s fragrant yellow flowers in spring.

Ribes odoratum ‘Crandall’ is great for an edible garden or as a border around a kitchen garden. We have them featured in my front yard edible garden- five of them will eventually create a hedge along the stone wall. The drawing of this garden is featured in the book as an example of a seasonal and edible garden that changes throughout the year so that something is always blooming for the vase or ready to eat.

We planted these bare root plants in early spring of last year. This is what they looked like when we planted them. So in their second season they are fruiting beautifully with many branches loaded down with fruit. We pick them when they are blackest and sweetest though even at that they are a little tart. (Love them!). Lucky for us the fruit does not all ripen at the same time. We’ll gather another basket full and make a new batch of jam in a few days.