It’s that time of year when my little berry patch in the garden springs to life and fairly groans with produce. I am truly blessed to have such bounty as I in no way help the work of Mother Nature merely leaving the bushes to get on with it year after year, just trimming back so I can reach the fruit. Hey ho, seems to work even if not working to Titchmarsh standards.
Last week I was literally knee-deep in blackcurrants and having to think quickly to come up with cunning ways to use them. If you browse through this blog you will see I have used my crop to good effect in my blackcurrant vinegar and the delectable and ever popular homemade Cassis.
This time I chose to do with a slightly more traditional route and make something almost like jam but not quite. I am not a blackcurrant fan you see as my Mum used to make the stuff all the time and tell us it was as good for you as any medicine, this put me off like a shot and I haven’t been able to embrace simple blackcurrant jam with any sort of enthusiasm since.
So I decided to make Blackcurrant And Rosemary Fruit Cheese.
Now for those of you unfamiliar with fruit cheeses I ask that you delete the image of cows, milk and spreadable fruity creamy stuff from your mind right away. Fruit cheeses get their odd name simply because unlike normal jam they are much firmer and can actually be sliced like ‘real’ cheese. The most famous fruit cheese of all is the Spanish Manquillo which is made from quinces and is often served with those beautiful Spanish cheeses at the end of a meal or with a chilled glass of wine and a slither of cheese on a warm afternoon.
To make your Blackcurrant and Rosemary Fruit Cheese you will first have to capture your blackcurrants. Now you could do this quite simply by walking into the supermarket or local farmers market and buying them in a little box, or you could take your life in your hands and brave the berry bushes and pick your own.
I chose the latter and sallied forth (you see one cannot sally forth into a supermarket, just doesn’t work, believe me, you might get arrested, save the sallying for secluded pursuits where you can come over all macho and warrior-like and nobody can witness the laughable event) down the garden and into the berry patch wearing the singularly inappropriate outfit of shorts and flip-flops. Will I ever learn – simple answer here – hell no!
Anyway in I go armed only with a bag for bootie and a keen eye for searching out those little black gems hiding amongst the prolific greenery. I didn’t have to look far and was fairly filling my bag with bounty and not even noticing the mess I was getting into. It wasn’t until Idgy wandered down the garden and fell over laughing saying I looked like an extra in ‘supernatural’, covered as I was in a multitude of scratches with blood and deep red juice splattered all over the place. Just as I am thinking up a crushing reply the local wildlife spot me (clegs – and if you don’t know what these horrible enormous biting insects are then you have never been blessed by a visit to Scotland in summer) and suddenly I am being attacked from all sides and desperately swatting at myself left and right. You see dear reader, when clegs bite they don’t let go and the blood sucking little bastards (little, no think 1″ long) grip on to you causing agonising pain while they enjoy a wee feast at your expense. Now I looked even more like an extra from her favourite TV series as I was hopping about, swearing, looking totally manic and flailing my arms about. I was in danger of losing the plot and the blackcurrants so abandoned the foraging and headed back to the house.
Here endeth the saga of how to get your blackcurrants – forget the sallying, forget the drama, just go to the shops!
So now we have the most important ingredient here is the recipe…..
Blackcurrant And Rosemary Fruit Cheese
1 kilo/2 1/4 lb fresh blackcurrants
100ml/3 1/2 fl oz water
300g/11 oz sugar
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
100ml/3 1/2 fl oz red wine
Rinse the blackcurrants and pick them over to remove any of those tiny hair like stalks.
Simmer the blackcurrants in the water over a moderate heat for 30 minutes or until tender and softened.
Mash the blackcurrants with a potato masher and then press through a wire sieve using the back of a wooden spoon to remove all the skins etc. Do this over a heavy based pan to cat the juice ready for the next step.
Add the sugar to the juice in the pan and also the rosemary sprigs and lemon juice.
Bring this to the boil for about 20 minutes and skim it regularly to remove frothy scum from the surface.
Now add the red wine, stir well and continue to boil until the mixture has reduced by half.
Remove pan from the heat and carefully fish out the rosemary.
Ladle the resulting blackcurrant and rosemary fruit cheese into a sterilised jar and pop on the lid.
Label and store in a cool dark cupboard. Once opened store in fridge and use within a couple of weeks.
Serve this little beauty with crackers and cheese or sliced with an assortment of European meats and olives and slithers of cheese. It is also good just spread on oatcakes or toast just like normal jam but with more body, a bit of booze and a really grown-up flavour.
I think you’ll like it.
- 1 kilo/2¼ lb fresh blackcurrants
- 100ml/3½ fl oz water
- 300g/11 oz sugar
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 100ml/3½ fl oz red wine
- Rinse the blackcurrants and pick them over to remove any of those tiny hair like stalks.
- Simmer the blackcurrants in the water over a moderate heat for 30 minutes or until tender and softened.
- Mash the blackcurrants with a potato masher and then press through a wire sieve using the back of a wooden spoon to remove all the skins etc. Do this over a heavy based pan to cat the juice ready for the next step.
- Add the sugar to the juice in the pan and also the rosemary sprigs and lemon juice.
- Bring this to the boil for about 20 minutes and skim it regularly to remove frothy scum from the surface.
- Now add the red wine, stir well and continue to boil until the mixture has reduced by half.
- Remove pan from the heat and carefully fish out the rosemary.
- Ladle the resulting blackcurrant and rosemary fruit cheese into a sterilised jar and pop on the lid.
- Label and store in a cool dark cupboard. Once opened store in fridge and use within a couple of weeks.