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.
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.