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SWEDISH FOOD

Recipe: How to make delicious Swedish redcurrant jelly

This simple recipe from Swedish food writer John Duxbury is a great way to make use of Sweden's redcurrants.

Recipe: How to make delicious Swedish redcurrant jelly
Redcurrant jelly. Photo: Swedish food

Hemgjord rödvinbärsgelé (homemade redcurrant jelly) is a popular accompaniment to game, lamb, grilled chicken or stew and for serving with cheese and biscuits. It is also a very useful addition to many sauces (see our recipe for venison with blackberries, for instance) giving them extra depth of flavour. Most commercial redcurrant jellies are too sweet and lacking in flavour whereas this recipe produces a well-flavoured jelly with a gorgeous redcurrant colour and yet it is quick and easy to make!

Tips

•  If you don’t mind a cloudy jelly, you can push the mixture through the sieve or jelly bag in step 3, but otherwise leave it to drain slowly by itself.

•  Store in small jars and keep them in the fridge once opened.

•  Small jars of homemade redcurrant jelly make nice little stocking fillers for Christmas, if you can be bothered thinking ahead to Christmas in July!  Just stick some Christmas wrapping paper over the lid and that is one present done!

Ingredients

500g *(5 cups)* redcurrants

100 ml (½ cup) water

75g **jam sugar per 100 ml of juice obtained

*Do not mix the units!

**12 oz jam sugar per pint of juice obtained (0.6 oz per fl oz!)

Method

1. Rinse the redcurrants and then pick them over and discard any that are bruised. Place the rest, stalks and all, in a preserving pan and add the water.

2. Bring slowly to the boil, stirring regularly and pressing the redcurrants against the sides of the pan to release the juice (or use a potato masher). Boil steadily for about 10 minutes until the fruit is cooked.

3. Tip the whole lot into a jelly bag or a fine-mesh stainless steel sieve over a bowl. Leave to drain for 4 hours or overnight.

4. Measure out the amount of juice collected and then pour it into a preserving pan. Add 75 g per 100 ml (12 oz per pint) of jam sugar to the measured amount of liquid.

5. Place the pan over a gentle heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a rapid boil and boil for 6½ minutes (or until setting point* is reached).

6. Cool slightly before pouring into sterilised jars.

7. Cover with a lid and label.

*Setting point

I find 6½ minutes works well for the quantities above, but if you prefer to test for a setting point, place some saucers in a freezer before you start. Start testing every 30 seconds after about 5 minutes. Be sure to remove the pan from the heat completely when you do a test!

Take your saucer from the freezer and place a drop of jelly onto the cold plate. After a few seconds push the jelly with your finger. If the jelly surface wrinkles then it has reached setting point and is ready. If it slides about as a liquid, then it hasn't reached the setting point and should be returned to the heat and boiled for a little bit longer before testing again.

Recipe courtesy of John Duxbury, founder and editor of Swedish Food.

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DISCOVER SWEDEN

The three tasty treats that make spring in Sweden a forager’s dream

Although parts of Sweden are still under snow at this time of year, spring is in full swing here in Skåne in the south of Sweden. Here are The Local's top tips for what you can forage in the great outdoors this season.

The three tasty treats that make spring in Sweden a forager's dream

You might already have your go-to svampställe where you forage mushrooms in autumn, but mushrooms aren’t the only thing you can forage in Sweden. The season for fruits and berries hasn’t quite started yet, but there is a wide range of produce on offer if you know where to look.

Obviously, all of these plants grow in the wild, meaning it’s a good idea to wash them thoroughly before you use them. You should also be respectful of nature and of other would-be foragers when you’re out foraging, and make sure not to take more than your fair share to ensure there’s enough for everyone.

As with all foraged foods, only pick and eat what you know. The plants in this guide do not look similar to any poisonous plants, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry – or ask someone who knows for help.

Additionally, avoid foraging plants close to the roadside or in other areas which could be more polluted. If you haven’t tried any of these plants before, start in small doses to make sure you don’t react negatively to them.

Wild garlic plants in a park in Alnarpsparken, Skåne. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Wild garlic

These pungent green leaves are just starting to pop up in shady wooded areas, and may even hang around as late as June in some areas. Wild garlic or ramsons, known as ramslök in Swedish, smell strongly of garlic and have wide, flat, pointed leaves which grow low to the ground.

The whole plant is edible: leaves, flowers and the bulbs underground – although try not to harvest too many bulbs or the plants won’t grow back next year.

The leaves have a very strong garlic taste which gets weaker once cooked. Common recipes for wild garlic include pesto and herb butter or herbed oil, but it can generally be used instead of traditional garlic in most recipes. If you’re cooking wild garlic, add it to the dish at the last possible moment so it still retains some flavour.

You can also preserve the flower buds and seed capsules as wild garlic capers, known as ramslökskapris in Swedish, which will then keep for up to a year.

Stinging nettles. Wear gloves when harvesting these to protect yourself from their needles. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Stinging nettles

Brännässlor or stinging nettles need to be cooked before eating to remove their sting, although blanching them for a couple of seconds in boiling water should do the trick. For the same reason, make sure you wear good gardening gloves when you pick them so you don’t get stung.

Nettles often grow in the same conditions as wild garlic – shady woodlands, and are often regarded as weeds.

The younger leaves are best – they can get stringy and tough as they get older.

A very traditional use for brännässlor in Sweden is nässelsoppa, a bright green soup made from blanched nettles, often topped with a boiled or poached egg.

Some Swedes may also remember eating stuvade nässlor with salmon around Easter, where the nettles are cooked with cream, butter and milk. If you can’t get hold of nettles, they can be replaced with spinach for a similar result.

You can also dry nettles and use them to make tea, or use blanched nettles to make nettle pesto.

Kirskål or ground elder, another popular foraged green for this time of year.
Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Ground elder

Ground elder is known as kirskål in Swedish, and can be used much in the same way as spinach. It also grows in shady areas, and is an invasive species, meaning that you shouldn’t be too worried about foraging too much of it (you might even find some in your garden!).

It is quite common in parks and old gardens, but can also be found in wooded areas. The stems and older leaves can be bitter, so try to focus on foraging the tender, younger leaves.

Ground elder has been cultivated in Sweden since at least 500BC, and has been historically used as a medicinal herb and as a vegetable. This is one of the reasons it can be found in old gardens near Swedish castles or country homes, as it was grown for use in cooking.

Kirskål is available from March to September, although it is best eaten earlier in the season.

As mentioned, ground elder can replace spinach in many recipes – you could also use it for pesto, in a quiche or salad, or to make ground elder soup.

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