Sunday 25 October 2015

A glut of blackcurrants

I suppose it's not a glut - you can never have too many Blackcurrants!

They are of course excellent eaten fresh, with a little sugar (if you wish) and some cream or crème fraîiche or put them in a tart or flan.  Many of my friends would instantly say "summer pudding", especially as we had  rather a lot of red currants and raspberries too, but although the taste of summer fruits is exquisite, I have never really grasped the delight of soggy white bread.

Often we just sprinkle blackcurrants with caster sugar and place straight in the freezer. In that way they are always on hand for a surprise summer dessert  even  in the depths of winter! Redcurrants and blackcurrants both freeze rather well.

This year we have made both blackcurrant and redcurrant jelly - but this year we have experimented with blackcurrant vodka and blackcurrant sorbet.

Blackcurrant  Vodka

We started off the blackcurrant vodka on 13 August and bottled  it a month later on 21 September - it's now in a cool dark place waiting for Christmas! 

I looked up proportions on the internet which suggested 250g currants to 175g caster sugar, but we had more than a kilo of currants, so here's my recipe.

1 kilo blackcurrants
4 litres Vodka litres 

I made it in two batches. With the first batch I added the vodka to the fresh currants but with the second I deployed the sloe gin trick of putting the currants in the freezer overnight. In the freezing and thawing process the skins crack which means the juice is released easier when the vodka is added.

Add sugar to currants; put in jars, stir and pour on vodka tighten lid and shake daily. Leave for 4 - 6 weeks in a cool place, and then strain through muslin.  Pour into bottles and seal tightly. Place bottles in a cool, dark place and leave for at least 3 months before drinking.

Black currant sorbet

200g caster sugar,
200mls boiling water
12 mint leaves 
750 g black currants
4 tbsp liquid glucose

Dissolve the sugar in the water by heating and then boil gently for a few minutes. Add a handful of fresh mint leaves and leave to cool.

When cool remove mint leaves.

Add black currants to the sugar syrup, bring to boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Add 4 tbsp liquid glucose.  Whizz mixture and strain through fine sieve.  Stir in the juice of 2 lemons. If you have an ice cream machine use this, but if not,  put in shallow dishes and freeze. Stir frequently, to ensure the slush freezes with a smooth sorbet- like texture. Leave in freezer. Take out of freezer 10 minutes before needed to allow to soften. Serve decorated with fresh mint leaves and cream or crème fraîche.

I was disappointed with the resulting texture - freezing in trays and stirring never quite achieves the desired texture that you get with the constant stirring of an ice cream  maker.  And although the taste was absolutely exquisite and not too sweet, the mixture was sticky and the texture not quite right for a sorbet. I think that next time I will use less liquid glucose.

John Austin
Hove, September 2015

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