[NAFEX] Black Currants

Del Stubbs northernlights2n at yahoo.com
Sat Aug 4 11:14:37 EDT 2007


 Years back a generous nafexer got me started with currant plants.  I had to destroy all
the Ben series, (WPBR showed up), but the  Titanias (Swedish if I remember) have never
shown a hint of WPBR, have good flavor and bear prolifically. I have used 40 of them as
one of the inter-plantings between  young apple trees in our orchard,  a great use of the
space between trees. In the rows that I have managed to mulch with old hay the currants
are markedly more vigorous, and when heavily laden branches lay down they lay on hay, not
dirt. 
 When my wife and I went to New Zealand years ago her two favorite foods were lamb dishes
and currant drink. I think I have finally come close to duplicating the currant drink, it
is now our favorite summer beverage.

Picking: I wait till I see currants falling off the plant - I want them as ripe as
possible. I put a large bowl under the plant and start stripping off fruit - many are
falling as I pick so it is important to have something under the fruit. We have tried
putting a cloth under the entire plant and shaking but only a quarter of the fruit came
off and many bunches were still attached to the stems ( is this called a drupe?) and
every bug in the bush got mixed in  as well. Does anyone know how they are harvested
commercially?

Cooking: I fill a  big bowl with currants and flood with water - bugs, leaves, dried
currants all float for easy removal. Drain it off.  Put currants on the stove in a big
stainless pot, add water about half the way up the berries, and just heat the water till
I can hear it starting to boil - and steam is starting to come out. When cooled down
enough I run it all through the Victoria Food Strainer (finest mesh). Very little comes
out as waste skins and seeds. Put the sauce back on the stove, add 1 cup sugar to every 2
cups of sauce and heat till sugar is dissolved. Add lemon juice, this is a matter of
taste but I find it an important ingredient.  We use about 1/8 cup to a quart of sauce. 

Preserving: We freeze the sauce in half pint containers. We buy clear 'deli containers'
from a local supplier for pennies each, quite re-useable and good for freezing - ask your
local grocery deli who they buy from, they come in packs of a hundred. 

Enjoying: Mix sauce with 3 to 4 parts water, makes a most delicious fruit juice. For an
extra treat use part carbonated water. If you have only eaten fresh black currants you're
in for a real surprise - the taste changes dramatically when they are cooked and eaten
this way.

Del Stubbs, MN  Z3a





       
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