Peril in the potager. Well, there isn’t that much peril in my potager. But picking soft fruit while wearing a white t shirt and pale trousers is about as close as you get to the equivalent of running with scissors.
Here is one kilogram of blackcurrants ready for my cassis liqueur. And not a stain on the clothes. Result!
All those years of ordering the perfect aperitif drink white wine and cassis: a kir in French cafes and little did I know that the kir – the blackcurrant liqueur – was so easy to make.
The champagne and cassis – kir royale is definitely for birthdays and times when someone else is going to pick up the hefty bar bill. But anyone can make blackcurrant liqueur. Or call it cassis and pretend it comes from Burgundy, the traditional home of the oily unctuous stuff.
The only time-consuming part of this drink is the time it takes for the fruit and booze and sugar to mingle and get to know each other in a tall jar in a dark spot. If I pick in summer, then I leave it four to five months before decanting and serving; Christmas time makes it a perfect moment to broach your first batch.
The brandy (or cognac, as we are in France) needn’t be expensive. Reach down to the lowest part of the booze shelf in the supermarket to pick up the cheapo bottles. And no need to destalk the blackcurrants. I just bung them into the jar with bits attached. I do wash the fruit however; just to remove the risk of bugs.
900 grams (2lbs) blackcurrants, well washed
600 mls (1 pint) brandy (cognac)
350 grams (12 oz) granulated sugar
Wash a tall jar with a close fitting lid.
Cram the fruit into the jar and squish if they don’t fit.
Sprinkle the sugar over the fruit.
Pour in the booze.
Seal the jar and place it in a cool dark place. You will need to give it a shake twice a week for the first month or so the fruit, sugar and alcohol combine well. After a month (or when you realise you have forgotten to shake it for a while) place it in a hidden dark spot for at least four months.
Strain the liqueur into a decanter, and reserve the fruit. Many people happily serve the boozy fruit over ice cream or in cakes. I tend to just put it into a tupperware container, freeze it and then forget what it is when I clear out the freezer.
To serve the liqueur place a slurp in the bottom of a wine glass and top up with either white wine or champagne.