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Homemade Cassis

July 21, 2010

There are some things that I have on my “to make” list simply for the images they conjure up in my mind’s eye. Take cassis, for instance: black currant liqueur, also known as “crème de cassis.” I’ve always pictured sipping it out of a little cordial glass, perhaps alongside some dainty dessert, while I sit in a cozy, hidden English cottage-style garden. Maybe wearing a light and frothy sundress, with dappled sunlight peeking through the trees. Given that (a) I do not own any cordial glasses, (b) there are no hidden English cottage-style gardens on our property (not yet, at least), and (c) the only light and frothy sundress I own is from my pre-baby wardrobe and I’m not so keen on depressing myself by trying to squeeze into it, it seems as though this exact scenario won’t come to pass anytime soon.

mash up the tiny inky berries with some sugar

However, currants are now in season around us, and I couldn’t resist placing a bulk order for 5 pounds of them (admittedly a bit more than I could perhaps easily handle on my own) from our fruit CSA. I roped my husband into de-stemming them with me, which is a great thing to do while watching your favorite tv show at night. We are currently hooked on the BBC series Monarch of the Glen, which — knowing how popular black currants are in the UK — seemed like an appropriate show to watch while picking the tiny stems off the ink-black berries.

stir it up, bring to a simmer

Anyway, after canning more jars of black currant jam than I thought imaginable, I was left with a pound or so…what to make? The answer came from the Foxmoor Farm web site: homemade cassis.

The process to make it is simple — that is, after you remove the stems from the currants. That activity, my friends, is something I do not choose to do more than once a year. Once the currants are de-stemmed, it’s simply a matter of mashing them up with sugar, bringing them just to a simmer, adding a generous amount of brandy off the heat, then pouring that whole mixture into jars to let steep for a week in the fridge.

pour in lots of brandy. this can’t be bad.

I’m one week into the two-week process, and I will tell you that it already tastes completely amazing. Intense tart-sweet currant flavor, distilled into liquid form. I’m already dreaming about drizzling a little over fresh berries and vanilla ice cream. I’m also thinking it would be lovely decanted into pretty bottles to give as gifts throughout the year — after I’ve set aside our supply, that is.

Homemade Cassis

recipe from Foxmoor Farm

2 cups (10 oz) black currants, stems removed
1 cup sugar
2 cups Brandy or Cognac

Place the currants in a medium saucepan and mash with a potato masher. Add the sugar and 1 cup of water; simmer over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved and the fruit has released its juices, about 5 minutes.

Turn off the heat, add the Brandy or Cognac, and carefully pour into a glass jar. Tightly seal the jar and store it in the refrigerator for a week.

Strain the mixture into a bowl, then strain again through a sieve lined with cheesecloth into a clean jar. To allow the flavors to develop, store at least 1 week in the refrigerator before using.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. July 21, 2010 11:00 pm

    That sounds so good. We just planted three currant trees. Maybe I’ll be able to use this recipe with my own currants one day!

  2. Helen in CA permalink
    July 22, 2010 1:32 pm

    Oh how I wish black currents were available in Northern Ca!

    (anyone have any idea why they aren’t?)

  3. July 22, 2010 7:27 pm

    @Dakota: How long does a currant tree take to grow?

  4. July 22, 2010 11:19 pm

    Can I substitute raspberries?

    • July 25, 2010 1:32 pm

      Hi Michelle, I think raspberries would be good too – of course it would be a slightly different result, but I don’t see how it could be bad. 🙂 And, I’d bet the color would be beautiful!

  5. July 25, 2010 5:29 am

    Store bought cassis can be so expensive, this is a recipe to encourage you to make your own and save on the pennies too. Thank you so much for sharing. The colour is so fab too!

  6. July 31, 2010 5:16 pm

    @Gluten Free… I’m not sure. We just planted them this year and they’re getting their roots all nestled in. I expect they’ll grow fairly fast next year.. they had put on about a foot of growth in the pots at the nursery before we bought them – and that was in just a month or two.

  7. August 2, 2010 4:35 am

    Such a great recipe. I’ve never thought of making my own Cassis. Sounds simple and easy.

  8. August 2, 2010 6:15 pm

    mmm…I’ve never, ever had fresh currants, but this sounds so lovely. If I happen to fall across them at a farmstand, I’ll definitely make a batch. 😀

  9. melanie chesnel permalink
    August 5, 2010 1:46 pm

    how to make real cassis after my breton mother-in-law!
    pick the blackcurrents on a sunny afternoon, destalk them directly into a class preserving jar or pick them direcly off the plant into the jar with no stalks. Fill the jar to 1 1/2″ from the top. Put the jar minus lid and metal parts into the freezer and freeze the berries to split the skins (otherwise crush earch berry slightly between your fingers before putting them in the jar – but this takes ages). Remove the jar frm the freezer and fill with chosen alcohol to cover the fruit at least 1/2″(use at least 40% alchohol – in Brittany it would be distilled apple alcohol, but white rum, vodka or brandy are all fine). Seal with a rubber ring, Store 2 weeks on a sunny window sill then atleast 4 weeks in the cool dark. To finish drain off the berries -add them to fruit salads! Sweeten the liquer with syrup to taste.

  10. August 31, 2010 12:14 pm

    This sounds wonderful! Now I’m off to search for currants.

  11. Martha Rose permalink
    August 31, 2010 2:38 pm

    They have a drink in Japan, Cassis Orange, Cassis liquor mixed with fresh squeezed orange juice. Yummy!

  12. October 18, 2010 6:21 pm

    I had no idea you could make this at home! Now I’m going to have to scour the market for currants…Thanks!

  13. March 26, 2011 1:43 pm

    I would love to make this!! Sounds delicious!!!

  14. Suzy Currell permalink
    July 5, 2012 8:03 am

    Right, I shall make this over the weekend- don’t know if I’ll use brandy or vodka myself, depends what’s cheapest down the supermarket….But I see no need to top’n’tail all the bloody things if you’re going to sieve them anyway (I don’t know if Americans are familiar with this phrase? “Top and tail” means painstakingly to remove the little rough bits at each end). There is only so much you can do without going mad….and I have 5 bushes all going great guns!

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