TIME TO BRING IN THE FIRST FLUSH OF THE BLACKCURRANT HARVEST – FIRST WEEK IN JULY 2010

Fellow kitchen gardener Cathy Gaffney from down the road and her daughter Jenny helped this year to pick and share blackcurrants while the weather was dry.

I get a generous crop from just two blackcurrant bushes – or ‘Ribes Nigrum’ as the Romans (or Michael Palin in ‘The Life of Brian’) might have said! A GIY friend was saying how the birds devour her blackcurrants and she needs to net the bushes. Maybe the variety I use is not so palatable to birds – but I certainly like it, as a dessert, on porridge or as a drink when juiced. I do not have time to make jam from it so I freeze any surplus in batches to use during the year.

I did not know much about fruit bushes when I bought and planted these two bushes in 1996. As luck would have it however, I accidentally gave them ideal conditions. A well manured deep soil and moisture during the summer, a regular mulch of lawn clippings and a pH of around 6.2 . The bushes are planted on the moist banks of the small garden pond so the roots never dry out.

The only snag is the fruit is difficult to reach with all the growth nearby. So I cut out and take away the stems using a secuteurs. I can then pick the mature fruit at the kitchen table. This makes the harvest an easier and more sociable activity. At the table a kitchen fork can also be used to remove the bulk of the fruit which speeds up the operation.

One drink using balckcurrants I have not yet tried is Cassis – apparently it is made from the juice mixed with a dry white wine and I’m told it goes down a treat on a hot day. Let me know if you can vouch for this or if you have other useful tips about  the beautiful blackcurrant.

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Hi Trevor,
    My Dad makes lots of lovely berry liqueurs – sloe gin, blackberry brandy, etc. Cassis is a blackcurrant liqueur.
    The basic method is simple. Use a Kilner type jar. Half fill the jar with your berry of choice. Add sugar until the jar is three-quarters full. Top up with alcohol of choice. (Vodka or gin would probably be best with blackcurrants). Shake well. Leave the jar in a cool, dark place and shake every day for about six weeks. The liqueur will be ready in about two months.
    It can be enjoyed as a warming winter drink on it’s own, or it can be added to white wine, sparkling wine or punch. Cassis added to Champagne makes the classic Kir Royale.
    Enjoy!
    All best, Denise

    Reply

    • Thanks a million Denise and to your Dad ‘respect!’. That is wonderful information on Cassis. I’m not a brewer (yet!), but I’ll give the blackcurrant liqueur a go. Great to see you at the Naul GIY visit you hosted. Thanks for the enjoyable day. Beir bua is beannacht. Trevor

      Reply

  2. Posted by Karen Devine on July 28, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    Hi Trevor

    On the subject of Blackcurrants I use mine to make a delicious and refreshing sorbet. It’s very simple and can be done quickly while making dinner in the evening and would be ready to eat for lunchtime the following day – and you don’t need an ice cream maker.

    BLACKCURRANT SORBET:-
    Take a pound of blackcurrants (topped and tailed) and put them in a pot with two tablespoons of water. Stew them for about 6 minutes til soft and then take them off the heat and pass through a strainer so that you have all the juice from the blackcurrants. Discard the pulp cause you wont need it. Set the juices aside to cool while you slowly dissolve 8ozs of sugar in a pint of water but dont bring it to the boil, just let it warm gently. Remove from the heat and pour the water/sugar syrup into the bowl with the blackcurrant juices. Pour into a bowl that is suitable for the freezer, put a lid on it and put it into the freezer. Check it about once an hour and once you find that it is starting to freeze fold in two beaten egg whites into the mixture and return to the freezer. Once an hour for the next few hours take the mixture out and give it a gently stirring so it doesnt get too frosty and after about 6 hours your sorbet should be ready. Take it out of the freezer about five minutes before serving and again give it a good stir. That recipe should give you about 8 x 2 scoop servings so its ideal when you are having friends around or are looking for a freshing little snack when you have been busy in the garden on a hot day.

    BLACKCURRANT CUBES:-
    The other thing I often do is to stew the blackcurrants as in the receipe above, strain them and them freeze the juice in ice cube trays. Then you can defrost a cube at a time in a cup of black tea (like they do with fresh fruit juices in Poland) or pour it over ice cream or fruit as a little dessert treat.

    Best wishes
    Karen

    Reply

    • Karen, a Chara,
      Thanks for all that information on blackcurrrant recipes. I’ll aspire to the sorbet when I next harvest. I’m even more impressed by your time management after reading that recipe.
      Le meas glas.
      Trevor

      Reply

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