BLACKCURRANT cordial is a wonderfully tasty way to get your Vitamin C – and it gives a touch of zing to everything from water to vodka!
I’m a terrible procrastinator so I’m not sure why I was so surprised when I discovered bags and bags and bags of last year’s frozen blackcurrants a couple of days ago.
I do remember rushing out into the back garden in the late summer and frantically picking the fruit as a pretty severe summer storm headed our way – but after depositing them in the freezer (while probably feeling very smug knowing me) I just forgot about them.
Becca (8) is a big fan of our cordial – it’s actually Darina Allen’s recipe but we’ve been making it for a few years now – so she was the one who finally got me to check the freezer and make her ‘ribena’.
Delicious blackcurrant cordial
As I’ve already said, blackcurrants are a fantastic source of Vitamin C, and the shrubs are surprisingly easy to grow – we pretty much leave ours to just get on with it every year. The homemade cordial also beats any mass-produced brand by a mile and the recipe from Allen’s Forgotten Skills of Cooking is very straightforward.
You will need a large stainless steel cooking pot (we used two simultaneously to try and use up as many of our blackcurrants as we could).
Boil 1.1kg or 2 ½ lbs of blackcurrants in 4 litres or seven pints of water for just 15 minutes. Stay alert in case it tries to boil over and messes up your hob!
We then used a sieve lined with muslin we usually have for jam-making to strain the mix. The recipe says to add 13 parts sugar to every 15 cups of liquid, but as we’re easily confused we just put in 5 ½ lbs of sugar and then poured in 1 cup of white wine vinegar (slowly melt the sugar stirring constantly). Bring to boil for 3 minutes before pouring into sterilised bottles.
The cordial will keep for several months if you store it in a cool, dry place – but it tends to get used up pretty fast in our house!
We have found this recipe is particularly nice with lots of ice and sparkling water. It can also be heated with a little honey if somebody is feeling under the weather during the winter months, especially if they’re too young to appreciate a hot lemon drink.
Handy and tasty gift
We like to give away bottles as gifts to family and friends (but make sure you find out first if they’ll actually use it as it is sacrilege to have a homemade cordial sitting in a cupboard forgotten).
We filled 11 large bottles and one has already been dropped off to our neighbour while another is earmarked for the grandparents.
We’ve still got a whole lot of blackcurrants to use up so I’ve decided to use a recipe I’ve just discovered to make jam. We’re novices at blackcurrant jam so looking forward to having a go.
As I finish up writing, I can’t help thinking that this entire saga will all start again in a few weeks when the 2016 crop is ready. I’ve had the usual ‘definitely learned my lesson this time’ conversation with my husband regarding putting jobs off, but how much do you bet that my blackcurrants will end up taking up space in the freezer again!!
If you have any blackcurrant recipes you think we should try please let us know via the blog. You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter or subscribe for free updates on my musings!