From article Currants – black, red and white
Currants are high in pectin and so will form a gel even when diluted. Recipes for Redcurrant Jelly differ tremendously in the amount of water added, from none to 400ml per kilogram of fruit. The yield can be almost doubled by adding the full quantity of water but obviously the flavour will be less intense and the set slightly less firm, and if you add more water than necessary you will have to boil until to drive it off and achieve a set.
Whitecurrants can be used in place of, or in equal proportion to, redcurrants. As whitecurrants ripen they develop a pink colouration although the jelly will not be quite so deep in colour as when redcurrants are used in isolation. This can however have the advantage when showing off added ingredients. I particularly like to use whitecurrants to make a mint jelly, which is exquisite with lamb and /or young spring vegetables.
I do not believe the currants require long cooking to extract their juice. Provided they are reasonably ripe when picked, 5-10 minutes should suffice rather than the three quarters of an hour stipulated in many recipes. The yield may possibly be slightly lower but the flavour will be fresher. Do lightly press the fruit with a wooden spoon before turning into a jelly bag for overnight straining but do not be tempted to squeeze the bag again or the juice will be cloudy. Actually, the straining does not take all night, it will have stopped dripping after a couple of hours. Measure the strained juice and then return to a clean pan and bring back to the boil. Only when boiling point has been reached add sugar – at the rate of 450g for every 600ml of juice and then continue boiling until setting point is reached. If adding mint (or other herbs) briefly blanche them in white wine vinegar before adding them to the jelly once setting point has been reached – 1 tablespoonful of chopped herbs blanched in 2 tablespoonfuls of wine vinegar for every 600ml of juice.
The following recipe is taken from River Cottage Handbook No.2 – Preserves by Pam Corbin.
A shrub is an old-fashioned kind of drink: essentially a delightfully fruity, alcoholic cordial. Based on sweetened rum or brandy, it is traditionally flavoured with acidic fruit such as Seville oranges, lemons or redcurrants. Keep back some of the juice after straining redcurrants to make jelly and you will find this lovely tipple very simple to make.
Serve as an aperitif, either on its own or mixed half and half with dry martini and finished with a splash of fresh orange juice. (Or warm, as we did at the shoot.)
Makes about 1 litre
300ml strained redcurrant juice *see note below
600ml rum or brandy
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
1 tsp grated nutmeg
300g granulated sugar
*When making redcurrant juice add 400ml of water to 1 kg of redcurrants. This dilution is important because the pectin in the redcurrants reacts with alcohol to form a gel. This jelly does dissolve on heating (hence the reason we served the shrub warm!).
Mix the redcurrant juice, rum or brandy, orange zest and nutmeg together in a large, wide-necked jar. (The wide neck is important as, even diluted, you may get a gel before the sugar is added). Seal the jar tightly and leave for 7-10 days in a cool, dark place.
Transfer the currant and alcohol mixture to a pan, add the sugar and heat gently to about 60˚C. When the sugar has dissolved, strain the liqueur into a sterilised bottle and seal with a cap.
Store for several months in a cool dark place so the shrub can fully mature before you take the first tipple. Use within 2 years.
My Note: I find this rather sweet and am happy to dilute it with an equal volume of water when serving.
Raw Blackcurrant Ice Cream (or Fool)
1 vanilla pod
10 fl oz single cream
4 egg yolks
5 oz caster sugar (vanilla sugar if available)
10 fl oz double cream
2 lb blackcurrants
light muscovado sugar (to taste)
2 tbsps crème de cassis (optional)
Heat the single cream and vanilla pod to just below boiling point, leave to infuse for 15 minutes.
Whisk the egg yolks and caster sugar together until pale and fluffy then pour on the warm cream, removing the vanilla pod. Return the mixture to the cleaned pan and heat gently, stirring all the time, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon.
Whisk the double cream and fold through the custard mixture, cover and put in the fridge.
Process the raw blackcurrants in a food processor until puréed and then pass through a nylon sieve to remove the pips. Add the crème de cassis and sweeten to taste with muscovado sugar. Add a good squeeze of lemon juice to sharpen. Stir the purée into the ice cream mixture.
Leave until thoroughly chilled before transferring to the ice cream maker, or, if serving as a fool, chill in serving glasses for 6 hours.
Blackcurrant Leaf Sorbet
8 oz caster sugar
1 pint water
3 good handfuls of small blackcurrant leaves
grated rind and juice of a lemon
1 egg white
Place the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves, then turn up the heat and boil for 10 minutes. Add the blackcurrant leaves and lemon rind and leave until cool.
Pour the cold liquid through a sieve into a bowl and add the lemon juice.
Lightly whisk the egg white to loosen it then and fold through the mixture before freezing in an ice cream maker. If you are not using an ice cream maker, it will be easier to part freeze the mixture before adding the egg white, this time whisked to soft peaks.
Elizabeth David says …”Although nearly everybody knows of this wonderful pudding, authentic recipes for it are rare”. She goes on to give the following:
For four people stew 1lb of raspberries and ¼ lb of redcurrants with about ¼lb of sugar. No water. Cook them only 2 or 3 minutes, and leave to cool. Line a round, fairly deep dish (a soufflé dish does very well) with slices of one-day-old white bread with the crust removed. The bread should be of the usual thickness for sandwiches. The dish must be completely lined, bottom and sides, with no space through which the juice can escape. Fill up with the fruit, but reserve some of the juice. Cover the fruit with a complete layer of bread. On top put a plate that fits exactly inside the dish, and on the plate put a 2 or 3 lb weight. Leave the pudding in a very cold larder or fridge. When ready to serve turn the pudding out onto a dish (not a completely flat one, or the juices will overflow) and pour over it the reserved juice. Some people put strawberries into summer pudding. To me that’s a waste of strawberries. They don’t go well with raspberries and redcurrants.
Although I concur entirely with her view on strawberries I do like to include a few blackcurrants – not too many or they will overpower. It is also perfectly fine to include some whitecurrants but the predominant fruit must remain as raspberries. The proportion of fruit to bread is also an issue – I like my summer pudding to be predominantly fruit so always make a large version – double the above – small or individual puddings always seem overly “bready”.
Currant and Raspberry Compôte
Less of a recipe but more a plea not to overcook fruit for this refreshing fruit salad, which I love to eat for breakfast with yoghurt. Cook only the currants, with as little sugar as you can take (start with 100g of sugar to a kilo of fruit). When the currants have started to release their juices remove them from the heat, taste again and adjust the sugar then stir in the raspberries.