Red currant jelly (popularly known as red currant sauce) is an English ingredient primarily consisting of red currants, rosemary, and sugar. It’s so simple; you can prepare it yourself in the comfort of your home.
Red currant sauce boasts an impressive versatility with many foods. Very common to these categories are lamb, turkey, and goose. In the United Kingdom, your Sunday roast or Christmas dinner is rarely complete without having red currant jelly as a side condiment.
As you know, however, nothing is ever completely irreplaceable. And for reasons very few people might not even be willing to share, they dislike red currants.
What is the best substitute for red currant jelly? The best substitute for red currant jelly is grape jelly. Not only do red currants and grapes have very similar appearances and tastes; they are also both readily available and used in the same kinds of way.
An Overview of Red Currant Jelly
Again, three ingredients primarily characterize red currant jellies: red currants, rosemary, and sugar. Rosemary characterizes red currant sauce with the particular flavor/aroma they impart on foods.
Though bitter and astringent as a stand-alone ingredient, they merge well with these other two, making red currant jellies perfect for a roasted game.
Now, these are the primary ingredients. Many more others could be added as creativity and taste pleases. Some of these others include red wine (why not?), white wine, orange zest, port, mustard, and even shallot (they look and taste like onions).
Most home-made jellies don’t even include rosemary. All you mostly need to make yours is fresh red currants, water, and white sugar. Red currants have rich pectin levels, and it’s why they’re jellies are thick, have gel consistencies, and preserve long.
Understand that you won’t usually find red currants in grocery stores near you. It’s because they’re too fragile to transport. Usually, they’re handpicked from the farm or bought at farm stores.
The process of making home-made jellies is quite long, but we’ll summarize it in 5 simple steps:
- Rinse red currant. We advise you to leave the stems on; it somehow increases the quantity and adds this earth flavor to your redcurrant sauce.
- Add red currant to a body of simmering water for about 30 minutes to one hour. Because of the pectin, red currants do not readily release their juice, and it’s why a squasher might come in handy to enhance the process.
- Pour the solution into a gel sieve, and wait for about 8-10 hours for the juice to filter into the pan below. Do not be tempted to squeeze to hasten the process. It gives a cloudy residue.
- Boil the filtered juice while adding sugar (for every 600ml, add 450g of white sugar). Mix to stir. After about 10 minutes of boiling, the sauce must have reached its setting point.
- Leave to cool, scrape the film that forms off, and scoop into small sterilized jars.
You can use red currant jellies as ol’ jam for bread and scones, or you can use it as a side sauce for roasted lamb, ham, and bacon. You can also use it as a glaze for red fruit tarts (or any tarts at all).
Why Replace Red Currant Jelly?
- Non-availability: We just told you how unavailable red currants might be at stores… and not everyone has a farm in their backyard. And what happens if even the ready-made ones are out of stock? You go for the substitutes.
- Preference: Not everybody likes red currants. And last time we checked, that’s not in any way a crime against humanity. Many times also, some people complain that they don’t like the high pectin levels of red currants. Replace them in meals with these substitutes.
Best Recommended Substitute for Red Currant Jelly: Grape Jelly
Grape jellies are the immediate substitutes for redcurrant jellies. They look, taste alike, and are used in the same ways with the same foods. Some parties even argue that grape jellies are more versatile than redcurrant jellies. And here’s why.
Grape jellies exist in two different forms: the standard variant made with the concord grapes stashed up in your fridge. And of course, grapes, unlike red currants, are readily available in nearby stores. These jellies are therefore more feasible to make at home (the same way).
The other less common variant is made with muscadine grapes. They’re mainly considered jelly material because of their tough skin. And both share the same degree of sweetness.
Other Substitutes for Red Currant Jelly
Apple jelly comes in as a handy alternative when the grape jelly is unavailable. Cut apples into thin slices, and make home-made jellies the same way we explained earlier (add lemon juice this time with sugar). And apples are so common; you can pick them on the floor (exaggeration intended)!
If you can use redcurrant jelly for a meal, you can use apple jelly too: roast chicken, lamb, cheese, pork. You can also use it as bread spread and cake filling.
Best to think of the cranberry sauce as the American substitute for UK’s redcurrant jelly. It is made from cranberry the same way all other jellies are made.
And when it comes to glazing roast lamb, most parties agree that cranberry sauce is a better match than redcurrant sauce. It constitutes a sacred part of Thanksgiving dishes.
Seeing they are dry, these are somewhat unconventional replacements for redcurrant jellies. Dried fruits exist in a wide variety. The most common ones include raisins, dried cherry, dried blueberries, and dried apricots.
There are some factors you might need to consider depending on the dried fruit you use. The major ones include fruit size (you may need to chop down some fruits to smaller sizes) and tartness and sweetness levels.