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Bumper crop of black currants - suggestions?

That's what I get for forgetting to prune last year....

I have already picked plenty and have them soaking in vodka for cassis. Since they ripen over a couple of weeks I now have about 6 extra cups. Before I just give up and make jam, I was hoping chowhounds would have some more creative suggestions? Syrup for making black currant soda? A savory sauce?

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  1. I could always give you my mailing address... :)

    But otherwise, syrup is a very good idea. Steam them and mash them into a paste, mix in enough water to make them pourable, strain them, and add sugar and reduce until...syrupy. Chill and mix with seltzer, ice and top with half and half!

    Edit: Serve them cooked with duck breast and oranges. Put them in rice with sliced almonds and chicken stock... Make Jell-o shots with the syrup plus unflavored gelatin and your cassis vodka!

    6 Replies
    1. re: Jemon

      Or my mailing address :)

      I have a wonderful but long, involved recipe for a mousse cake. I can give you a book reference if interested.

      1. re: souschef

        Souschef -- I'd be interested in the reference.

        (Thanks much.)

        1. re: karykat

          "New Classic Cuisine" by Michel and Albert Roux.

      2. re: Jemon

        It's amazing how people respond to black currants! Sort of a haunting flavor in my opinion. I ate black currant candy, Ribena soda, and black currant jam the summer I spent in England and have been a fan ever since. Luckily a few years back I found a small bush at the Napa Farmers' Market.

      3. I would definitely make syrup for soda, but if you want to make a dessert, I will say that I have had black currant sorbet a few times, once at Berthillon in Paris, and also at a French restaurant in NY, and it was among the best things I have tasted. I tried homemade versions using black currant nectar, but wasn't happy; if I had access to fresh, I would certainly try making sorbet.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

          Ah, sorbet sounds fabulous. There is a recipe black currant ice cream in Chez Panisse Fruit using "commercial" black currant syrup. Syrup would likely work in sorbet as well.

          1. re: Junie D

            The sorbets I had and loved had a very intense fruit flavor, and I just wasn't successful in replicating that. Fresh black currants cooked with water and sugar and puréed and strained (essentially, syrup) would probably do it.

            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

              I've noticed Pépin adds jam to up fruit flavor. Maybe cook some of the currants and sugar to a jammy consistency? Wonder what Berthillon does to make their sorbets so magic (raspberry and rose petal, anyone?).

              1. re: buttertart

                "raspberry and rose petal" when I read that I could taste it for a moment...and it was wonderful.

                  1. re: buttertart

                    I am SO making that. I don't know where to get good raspberries though. Maybe I will do strawberry and rose when the strawberries I'm growing are ripe!

                    1. re: Jemon

                      You could try frozen plus good raspberry jam (and sieve it, this was seedless). Strawberry and rose would be lovely too, they are all three of them related plants after all.

        2. I have a book called The Berry Bible that has lots of recipes for off-the-beaten-track fruit.
          It does have some black currant recipes, including a black currant syrup. It has a recipe for a sauce that uses the syrup for on things like duck.

          Another recipe is for a black currant salad dressing that is made from black currant puree.

          And another recipe is for a black currant coulis (1 batch uses about 2 cups of the currants). It recommends the coulis over red meat, duck, other game birds, pached pears, cheesecake, ice cream, or drizzled over panna cotta. (All of which sounds good to me.) You can also blend it into a panna cotta, the book says. It notes that the fruit is overpowering raw but changes magically when cooked. Still, "a little goes a long way."

          (PS. I can be on the next plane.)

          3 Replies
          1. re: karykat

            Wow - would you do me the favor of summarizing the salad dressing? I love the coulis idea too, I am just wondering if it should contain sugar or be really tart?

            1. re: Junie D

              Here's what's in the salad dressing (to serve 4): 1 tbsp. black currant puree, 1/4 c. olive oil, and 1 tbsp. sherry vinegar.

              The book put this over a salad with arugula, pears, pecans, kiwis and goat cheese, (Or anything!)

              The coulis had 2 cups black currants, and 4 -5 tbsp sugar to taste, and 1 cup water.
              The directions say to put the currants (which can be on their strigs) and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and gently crush the simmering berries with a spoon. Cook about 10 minutes until it thickens. Then puree by pushing through a fine striner. Stir the sugar in while still warm. Keeps in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

              1. re: karykat

                "Puree by pushing through a fine strainer" is easier said than done. When making the "Delice Au Cassis" from the Roux Brothers book, I pureed the blackcurrants with syrup in a food processor, then spent over an hour rubbing it through a fine-mesh conical sieve; it was a royal PITA! Subsequent to that, I bought a citrus juice attachment and power strainer for my Cuisinart food processor. Now it takes 10 minutes max.

          2. Welsh Cookies (or cakes) were a staple at church picnics and bake sales where I grew up in PA coal country. Still are in the Welsh and Irish neighborhoods and my father sends me some now and then. So good and not too sweet. They contain currants, but I don't know if it's the same type you have. I don't have a specific recipe, but they look like this: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/fo...

            2 Replies
            1. re: Island

              I think the currants you are referring to are the small raisins. "Real" currants are another animal altogether and related to the gooseberry, I believe. They may be black, white, or red. The black look like this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackcur...

              They have a sort-of resinous scent to me. Just delicious.

              1. re: Junie D

                Thanks Junie, yes these are raisin like, but after reading all the wonderful posts here I want what you're having! The sorbet, salad dressing, etc all sound wonderful!

            2. I just saw a summer pudding recipe that suggested using currants (with other berries) in it. It sounds like a great idea to cook currants down with other berries and use it as a sauce, in summer pudding, or to top ice cream or french toast or anything else.

              1. So, thanks and hugs to all of you, in the end I cooked and mashed the currants with a bit of water and strained them through a rather coarse sieve which left a few seeds. Then I:

                1. Sweetened some of the puree just a tad and froze it to use as coulis/sauce for meat, vinaigrette, etc. Duck is definitely in my family's future.

                2. Added more sugar and water to the remaining puree - I am astounded at how much natural pectin is in black currants - and passed it through a jelly bag. I got 4.5 cups of black currant syrup, some of which will go for sodas on the 4th. The rest I canned to use for sorbet, over ice cream, and in Kir later.

                3. There was a cup of "sludge" left in the jelly bag, which was delicious so I canned that and am calling it "jam."

                5 Replies
                1. re: Junie D

                  Wow! What a treasure trove you have! You made excellent use of it.

                  1. re: Junie D

                    Here's something for you to do with some of that jam (this one's got your name on it too, Ms McGrath): Black Currant Almond Bars from the Canadian Living Baking Book (pub in 2008, I got it and didn"t look through it until now - man what a book, there are at least a dozen recipes just in the first chapter I want to try)...topping 1/2 c sugar, 1/2 c marzipan, 1/3 c butter, 2 eggs, 1/2 tsp vanilla, 1/4 tsp almond extract, a pinch of salt (maybe more if you use unsalted butter in baking, CL apparently usually uses salted), 1/3 c ap flour, 2/3 c slivered almonds; base 1 c a-p flour, 1/4 c confectioner's sugar, 1/2 c cold butter, cubed, 1/2 c black currant jam. 9" square pan lined w parchment or greased. Make base by whisking flour w sugar, cut in butter until crumbs form; press in pan, bake in 350 deg oven until lightly browned; spread w jam (they say raspberry, lingonberry, or blackberry would go well too). Make topping: Mix sugar, butter and marzipan in food processor until amooth, add eggs, extracts, and salt; add flour and mix briefly. Spread over base in pan and top w almonds. Bake 30 mins appx until set and very lightly browned. (I haven't made this but it sounds great and I will once I get some marzipan - I have utmost confidence in CL's recipes, never used a bad one yet.)

                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                        Almond and, what more could a girl want? This is a seriously good baking book by the way. Amazon.ca!

                        1. re: buttertart

                          It does sound very good. I just heard that I have some black currants coming my way from a friend, so all these ideas are good.

                  2. Another idea from The Berry Bible for anyone else with black currants: black currant sorbet. The recipe is for either red or black currants. Sounds very refreshing!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: karykat

                      They indeed make excellent sorbet. I've only seen the red ones in NY this year, want some fresh balck ones too!