Anne Robinson Minturn’s Currant Jelly and Cure for Desolation

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Currant Jelly

“I will suggest that when currants are ripe, you have a few pounds of jelly made—say six or seven—it would be very useful in sickness, and if the currants are thoroughly ripe & the jelly well made with crushed sugar it will keep for three or four years–I would send it to you, but it will not keep long after being shaken up by transportation. How lost, how miserably desolate you must feel at times, and how constantly lonely.

1 pint juice—1 tb crushed sugar—boil 5 or 6 pints with the required sugar, at a time—it keeps so much better than when more is boiled at once.”

—Letter from Ann Robinson Minturn to her brothers,
July 20, 1862


  • 6 pints of currant juice
  • 6 Tbs fine granulated sugar
  • filtered water


Currants contain enough pectin to jell sufficiently on their own.

To extract the juice, add up to 1/4 cup water to each cup of fruit. Cook fruit and water over moderate heat until currants are translucent, about 10 minutes. Strain through a jelly strainer or a colander lined with a coffee filter. Do not squeeze the pulp or the jelly will be cloudy.

Heat the currant juice until it boils energetically. Use superfine granulated sugar for “crushed” sugar (1 Tbs. for every two cups of juice) and stir until it is thoroughly dissolved. Continue to boil, being careful not to let the jelly scorch on the bottom of the pot.

When the jelly coats the back of a spoon, or reaches 220 degrees, pour it into sterilized jelly jars. Leave 1/2 inch of headroom if you are to seal with melted paraffin; leave 1/8 inch of headroom if you use metal lids with bands. Seal with your chosen method and allow to cool and complete the seal. It is excellent on buttered toast at the first sign of loneliness.

Recipe adapted with assistance from Putting Food By
by Janet Greene, Ruth Hertzberg, and Beatrice Vaughan (Plume, 1992).

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