It’s black currant time in Sweden and I have eagerly been awaiting this moment. Last year I tried my hand at making crème de cassis (black currant liqueur) and it was so tasty I couldn’t wait for the next black currant season to arrive.
If you have an overabundance of black currants (svart vinbär) this is a perfect way to get them fresh-from-the-picking into a project without much initial effort. You simply dump the currants in alcohol, wait six months and then finish off the process with some straining and a sugar syrup. Simple enough, and just in time for Christmas gifts. The end product is well worth the time and effort. Elegantly smooth and dangerously drinkable. Crème de cassis is traditionally blended with dry white wine to make Kir. It is also a lovely addition to berry sauces for desserts, cassis sorbet, or simply to drink on its own. This year I’m giving red currants a try…stay tuned for the review in December.
Crème de Cassis (black currant liqueur)
makes about six cups (1.5 liters)
2.2 pounds (1 kg) black currants, stemmed and washed
20 small black currant leaves
1.75 pints/1 liter potato-based vodka or eau-de-vie (40 proof)
1 pound (500g) granulated sugar
2/3 cup (150ml) water
Place the berries, leaves, and vodka in a large glass jar making sure the currants are covered. Set in a cool, dark place and let steep for 5-6 months.
Strain the alcohol into a clean container and discard the leaves. Process the vodka-soaked currants in a food processor until they are broken down enough so you can strain the puree through cheesecloth (muslin) back into the alcohol. Press on the solids gently to extract the liquid.
Heat the sugar with the water in a saucepan over low heat. Simmer until the sugar dissolves and a thick syrup forms, about 5 minutes. Cool the syrup and then add it back into the alcohol, stirring well as you pour and tasting along the way. Stop adding the syrup when you have reached your preferred level of sweetness. Pour into storage bottles and seal. The longer it sits, the better it gets.