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Ingredient of the week: Blackcurrants

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26 JULY 2010

These shiny black baubles are in full swing come July and August. So sharp they’ll make you squint your eyes and slap your knees, cooked down with a spoonful of sugar they hit the spot with their combination of sweet and sour – perfect with the likes of meringues, ice cream or panna cotta – or even just spooned over sweetened Greek yogurt. They play an important role in the king of British desserts, the celebratory Summer Pudding, lending a sharp edge to the sweet fruit.

A labour of love though, nipping off their stalks and ends takes time and patience but is a therapeutic and rewarding task. During WWII the British government encouraged the growth of blackcurrants due to their high Vitamin C content – most fruits were imported and as such there was a shortfall. Almost the entire crop was given over to making cordials and syrups – a tradition that is still in effect today with the ever-popular Ribena.

Try making blackcurrant vodka or gin – half fill a jar or bottle with blackcurrants, a handful or so of sugar and top with vodka or gin. Leave for three months, turning occasionally and enjoy topped up with bubbly.

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