The end of summer, schools back (well in our case Idgy went back a week past Friday which already seems like ages ago now) and the warmth, rather like Elvis, is leaving the building.
I have been clearing the berry bushes and making the most of every last currant and berry out there. For someone who really takes little or no care of these bushes I have been blessed by a wonderful abundance of fruit this summer. So it is with a touch of sadness that I clamber about in the fruit patch wearing mother nature’s lipstick (the tell tale sign of the berry nibbler!) and pick the very last of this year’s harvest.
Blackcurrants in all their glistening glory are on the menu today. I have gathered over 6 kilos of them this summer from the tangles in the garden and made everything from cassis (spiced and plain) to fruit cheese and jelly. I have resisted basic blackcurrant jam on the basis of a long seated angst about the stuff.
You see my Mum was a great jam maker and blackcurrant was always her favourite. She made the huge mistake of telling us kids that it was ‘Good For You’ and always spooning it into us whenever we had a cold. Like most children the whole concept of anything that was Good For You meant boring and medicine and certainly not anything fun and tasty. To this day blackcurrant jam just leaves me cold, however I’m quite prepared to enjoy these gorgeous little fruit jewels in many other ways.
There has been lots of trial and error with these berries over the past few weeks, and more than a little deep red juice splattered all over the kitchen! Some days one could be forgiven for thinking they’d wandered into some hellish crime scene with the red stuff dripping off almost everything in sight.
I’ve loved these blackcurrants for their tart sweetness, almost a contradiction in terms but one that fairly dances on the taste buds nevertheless, and tried to make the most of this combination in as many ways as possible.
In this recipe for Blackcurrant Vinegar I’m focusing on the tart savouriness of the fruit and this vinegar really rocks on strong leaf salads and drizzled on roasted veggies.
- 500 g/1lb 2oz blackcurrants
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 300 ml/1/2 pint cider vinegar
- 400 g/14oz granulated sugar
- Rinse and pick over the blackcurrants removing the stalks.
- Pack them into a large Kilner type jar and squash them a bit with a potato masher to break them up and release the juice.
- Add the cinnamon stick and pour in the vinegar.
- Seal, shake and store in a cool dark cupboard for a week.
- Set up a jelly bag or double muslin lined sieve and drain the fruity liquid overnight.
- Measure the resulting liquid and for every 300ml/1/2 pint add 225g/8oz sugar.
- Heat gently to dissolve the sugar then boil for 5 minutes.
- Skim off any scum that floats on top.
- Cool and pour into a pretty bottle.
- Will keep for up to 1 year.