Redcurrant jelly is an English condiment produced from redcurrants, sugar, water, and occasionally a few other ingredients. It may be used as a marinade, flavoring sauce, or side for a variety of sweet and savory dishes.
Since redcurrants are native to Western Europe, they can be hard to find in the United States. For this reason, redcurrant jelly might not always be available and it may be a good idea to look for good substitutes.
So, what are the best redcurrant jelly substitutes? The best substitute for redcurrant jelly is grape jelly as it has a similar taste and texture and also is easily available. Other alternatives include apple jelly, cranberry sauce, and blackcurrant jelly.
Read on to find out more about redcurrant jelly, how it is used, some of its best substitutes, how they compare to redcurrant jelly, and much more!
What Is Redcurrant Jelly?
Redcurrant jelly (also referred to as redcurrant sauce) is an English condiment traditionally served with a Sunday roast, particularly lamb, goose, and roast turkey.
It is a British Christmas dinner staple and is made with redcurrants, sugar, and water. It may include some additional components in other versions, such as rosemary, red wine, white wine, mustard, and orange or lemon zest.
It is also served alongside a variety of game meats, especially venison, and its distinct tart-sweet flavor makes it the perfect finishing touch for baked items such as bread, scones, and English muffins.
How To Make Redcurrant Jelly At Home
Redcurrants are a summer rarity, so if you have a redcurrant bush at home or your local farmer’s market stocks them, you can make delicious redcurrant jelly and enjoy its sweet and tart flavor with a variety of recipes year-round!
Redcurrant jelly is made with redcurrants, sugar, and water — it requires no additional store-bought pectin as redcurrants are naturally full of it.
The naturally occurring pectin in the redcurrants ensures a final product that has a great gel-like texture without the need for a stabilizer agent. The result is a delicious, fruity jelly with a beautiful red color like that of the fruit!
Here’s a great recipe if you want to give it a try:
- Fresh redcurrants
- Rinse the redcurrants, leaving the stems on as they add an earthy flavor to the jelly.
- Place the redcurrants in a non-reactive pot and add about ½ cup of water.
- Cook the redcurrants over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring continuously.
- Gently crush the redcurrants with a potato masher while they are cooking as it will help them release more juice.
- Pour the juice into a gel sieve, dampened jelly bag, several layers of cheesecloth, or a colander lined with butter muslin and let it drain for about 8 to 10 hours, or preferably overnight. Avoid squeezing the jelly bag or cheesecloth to hasten the process as it will result in cloudy jelly.
- Once strained, measure the redcurrant juice and pour it into a non-reactive pot.
- Add equal amounts of sugar to the redcurrant juice; 2 ½ cups of sugar for 2 ½ cups of redcurrant juice.
- Bring the redcurrant juice and sugar mixture to a boil over high heat. Stir continuously to dissolve the sugar.
- Cook it for about 10 minutes or until the mixture reaches its setting point.
- Ladle the hot jelly into sterilized jars, leaving about ¼ to ½ inch headspace.
- Screw on the lids and let them process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes.
- Take the jars out of the water bath, let them cool, and enjoy.
If you cannot find fresh redcurrants, you may also use frozen redcurrants to make the jelly.
We know making jams and jellies at home isn’t an interest for some people, plus sometimes it’s just easier to opt for a ready-made redcurrant jelly. Tiptree Red Currant Jelly is a great option for you to try!
Best Redcurrant Jelly Substitutes
The most common reasons to look for redcurrant jelly substitutes are the unavailability of redcurrants or simply your preference.
You may not be able to get your hands on some fresh redcurrants or store-bought redcurrant jelly, or you may simply not like the taste of redcurrant jelly and would like to replace it in your recipes.
For either situation, you may use one of the below-mentioned substitutes to achieve a similar taste, texture, and function.
Here is a list of the best redcurrant jelly substitutes for you to choose from!
1. Grape Jelly
When it comes to the best redcurrant jelly substitutes, grape jelly is the clear winner since its taste is very similar and it is mostly used in the same way.
Any dish that calls for redcurrant jelly can be easily replaced with grape jelly using a 1:1 ratio.
Grape jelly is one of the most popular types of jelly and, since grapes are a common fruit available almost everywhere, it can be easily found in stores or prepared at home.
Its deep purple color is different from the redcurrant’s deep red, but is eye-catching nonetheless. Flavor-wise, grape jelly is sweeter and goes perfectly with everyone’s favorite PB&J sandwiches.
Similar to redcurrant jelly, it is prepared with fresh fruit, sugar, and water.
Grape jelly is a versatile ingredient that can be enjoyed with a variety of sweet and savory recipes. You may use it as a filling for cookies, glaze for pork chops, or as a breakfast spread.
Grape jelly comes in two different forms: concord grape jelly and muscadine grape jelly. Concord grape jelly is the standard variant you will most likely find in most supermarkets, while muscadine grape jelly is not as common.
Muscadine grapes are mostly eaten fresh, but due to their tougher skin, they are more likely turned into jelly. Both concord and muscadine grapes share the same degree of sweetness.
Try Welch’s Concord Grape Jelly — it contains no artificial flavors or colorings (it does have high fructose corn syrup) and has a wonderful consistency that works great with all your recipes.
2. Apple Jelly
Apple jelly is another great alternative to redcurrant jelly when grape jelly is also unavailable. Apples are one of the most common fruits, even more so than grapes, and are always readily available.
Like redcurrants, apples also have naturally-occurring pectin that serves as a thickening agent important for making fruit jellies.
Apple jelly has a nice golden color and sweet flavor and you can use it for any recipe you would normally use redcurrant jelly in. It is widely used as a bread spread and cake filling, and with chicken, roast lamb, cheese, and pork.
To make apple jelly at home, all you have to do is cut the apples into thin slices and cook them in a similar way with water and sugar. You can also add a little bit of lemon juice for tartness, especially when using it in place of redcurrant jelly.
You can also find ready-made apple jelly in the supermarket, with some manufacturers adding extra ingredients such as cinnamon for flavor.
Try Smucker’s Apple Jelly— it’s delicious and easily spreadable, making it a great substitute for redcurrant jelly.
3. Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry sauce is more popular in the US and is considered the American substitute for the UK’s redcurrant jelly.
Made from cranberries found in North America, cranberry sauce is used in a similar way as redcurrant jelly — as a condiment or side dish for a variety of meals.
Cranberry sauce constitutes a huge part of Thanksgiving meals in the US and, in certain instances such as glazing game meats and lamb, it may be considered a better option than redcurrant sauce due to its more complementary flavor profile.
Cranberry sauce and cranberry jelly are more or less the same thing and can be purchased in canned form or made at home using a few easy steps. Either way, it serves as a perfect substitute for redcurrant jelly, both flavor and texture-wise!
To make cranberry sauce at home, you’ll need fresh or frozen cranberries, orange juice, and granulated sugar. To make jellied cranberry sauce at home, you’ll need fresh or frozen cranberries, sugar, and water.
If you’re looking for a store-bought option, you can always give Ocean Spray Jellied Cranberry Sauce a try!
4. Blackcurrant Jelly
Blackcurrants may seem like the obvious choice for replacing redcurrants since they are closely related and share a lot of characteristics, but the two actually have quite a few distinct differences.
Redcurrants produce berries in varying shades of red, while blackcurrants are always purple-black. Aside from the difference in appearance, redcurrants are tarter whereas blackcurrants tend to be much sweeter.
While these differences reflect in their jellied versions, it is not uncommon to see blackcurrant jelly being used in place of redcurrant jelly.
You can easily substitute one for the other in a 1:1 ratio. Just keep in mind that blackcurrant jelly will give your dishes a much darker presentation.
Tiptree Black Currant Preserve is a great option for you to try!
5. Dried Fruit
Dried fruit may seem like a strange alternative to redcurrant jelly, but while they won’t really give you the same texture, they are a great choice when it comes to getting the closest flavor profile to redcurrant jelly!
Raisins, dried apricots, dried blueberries, and dried cherries are some of the best substitutes for redcurrant jelly, and you will notice that using just a few will give your dishes a more robust flavor.
When using them in place of redcurrant jelly, you will need to chop the dried fruit to a smaller size and, since they are dry, you will have to add extra water or liquid to your recipe.
You can also turn the dried fruit into jelly before incorporating it into your recipe. The process is simple and will give your dish the desired texture:
- Start by simmering the dried fruit in water for a couple of hours.
- Let them sit overnight to help them soften.
- Combine the fruit mixture with some sugar, lemon juice, and additional water, then bring to a boil again.
- Add pectin or gelatin to give it the same texture as redcurrant jelly.
6. Strawberry Jam
Strawberry jam is one of the most loved flavors in jams and jellies, and it offers a great flavor alternative to redcurrant jelly.
It is quite sweet and, although it doesn’t have the tartness present in redcurrant jelly, it pairs incredibly well with almost all recipes that call for it.
Compared to redcurrant jelly, strawberry jam is quite economical as it can be easily found in supermarkets and prepared at home using fresh or frozen strawberries.
Strawberry and redcurrant jam is also a great option that combines the yummy red goodness of both these fruit and is perfect for toast, scones, and other baked goods.
Try the Sweet Strawberry Jams by Good Good — these are keto-friendly and have no added sugar!
You may be surprised to see this one here, but honey is a common pantry item that can be used in place of redcurrant jelly. In fact, you can substitute it in place of sugar when making jams and jellies!
Honey is naturally sweet but lacks the tartness of redcurrant jelly. For this reason, when using it in its place, a dash of lemon juice added to the honey will do the trick. You can also mix in your choice of dried fruit for additional flavor.
When using honey, keep in mind that its sweetness is different from that of redcurrants — this is why it is always a good idea to add it slowly and taste the recipe as you go, if possible.
Both honey and redcurrant jelly play off other ingredients in the recipe and are a great accompaniment for herbs and spices. The thickness and viscosity are also similar, resulting in a final product with the same texture.
Honey is the perfect substitute for recipes that call for caramelization, especially on meat, since it helps break down the protein on the meat as it cooks along with giving it a subtle sweet flavor.
You can try Nature Nate’s 100% Pure, Raw, & Unfiltered Honey, which is known for its award-winning taste.
8. Raspberry Jam
Though not as popular as strawberry jam, raspberry jam is another wonderful substitute for redcurrant jelly.
Made with raspberries, lemon juice, and jam sugar (with pectin added), raspberry jam has a similar reddish color to redcurrant jelly and a fresh and fruity aroma.
Store-bought raspberry jam is often too sweet with more of an artificial candy-like flavor instead of natural fruity sweetness.
When made at home, you can adjust the ingredients to give it some added tartness so that it can work well as a redcurrant jelly substitute.
Give Smucker’s Red Raspberry Preserves a try!
9. Blackberry Jam
Blackberry jam has a sweet and delicious flavor that works wonderfully well when used in place of redcurrant jelly in any recipe.
Although it is not as popular as the other jams on this list, it is still a great redcurrant jelly alternative to be used as a spread on muffins, sweet breads, tarts, cakes, and other desserts.
You can make homemade blackberry jam, which is always the preferred choice, or you can opt for one of the many options available in the market, like Smucker’s Seedless Blackberry Jam!
The most important thing when looking for the best redcurrant jelly substitutes is the perfect balance between tartness and sweetness.
As discussed above, there are several great options you can use, such as grape jelly, apple jelly, and cranberry sauce.
You need to keep in mind though that every ingredient has its own unique flavor, and while the abovementioned substitutes are wonderful replacements, nothing can taste exactly the same. It’s really up to you!