We’ve been arguing over our currant bushes for years. We’d bought one each of red, white and black but one died and we couldn’t remember which had survived. Unfortunately the birds get to the fruit every year before they get the chance to ripen and reveal the answer.
This year, we were ready for them and made sure to cover the bushes with a net as soon as the berries started to form. It turned out that the redcurrant bush was the one that had died leaving us with black and white currants, meaning my husband was right and I was, well, less right.
The white currant bush is quite prolific and we ended up with a reasonable haul, but no amount of Google searches could come up with an exciting recipe for them. I bunged a few in an almond frangipane tart for entering into the Wilmslow Show (first prize since you asked) but had no idea what to do with the rest.
I came across a recipe for a white currant jam with the most glorious pink blush but jam doesn’t really interest me much. White currants are quite sharp and don’t have that rich rounded intensity that blackcurrants have. They are very beautiful though, and the pearl-like fruit look gorgeous on simple custard based tarts or draped over cakes.
I put a query out on Twitter and the call was answered by the lovely and talented Stosie Madi from The Parker’s Arms in The Trough of Bowland who makes all manner of homemade delights from seasonal and foraged ingredients. She suggested I bottle them with booze which is clearly the top answer for what to do with most excess fruit.
I found an old ‘Readers’ Recipe’ for home-made Crème De Cassis torn from the Telegraph years ago, which I had never got round to making. I was tempted to produce a purely white currant cassis but suspect that much of the magic comes from blackcurrants which have a much more characteristic and fruity flavour.
All in all I’d estimate we had about 200g of white currants and about 25g of blackcurrants.
Leaving the stalks on, we soaked them in 125ml of fruity Voignier for 48hrs before heating the whole lot gently in a pan and then mashing until pulpy with a potato-masher.
We poured all the mixture through a muslin jelly cloth and suspended it over a bowl to collect all the juice. Once the pulp was cool enough we squeezed it to capture every last drop.
This juice was put into a clean pan with 275g of sugar. We stirred the liquid over a low heat until all the sugar dissolved, producing a rich, syrupy fruit cordial.
Once this had cooled we added one part vodka to three of syrup.
I poured it into six 100ml bottles which I had washed and sterilised by pouring boiling water into them and then placing them in a moderate oven for 10 minutes. The recipe suggests that the cassis must be left for at least a week before opening.
So our currants produced the most delicious light cerise coloured booze ready to be dripped into Champagne, Cava or Prosecco for a Kir Royale and an opportunity to celebrate the summer fruits of our labour for the next few months.