A reader from France emailed me a few weeks ago with her own recipe for Crème de Cassis: blackcurrant liqueur for making Kir with. Kir is one of my favourite apèritifs – use one measure of Crème de Cassis or Crème de Mures (the same liqueur made with blackberries rather than blackcurrants) in a glass of five measures of chilled white wine. A Kir prepared with sparkling wine is a Kir Royale, and is also blimmin’ brilliant. Thank you very much, Jacqueline – and if you email me again to let me know what your surname is, I can give you a full credit for the recipe!
In this part of the world, blackcurrants are hard to find and very expensive when you do get your hands on them. Blackberries, however, quite literally grow on trees at the moment, and the method and amounts you’ll need for a crème de mures will be exactly the same. So if you want to make the most of this year’s surprisingly good blackberry harvest, get gathering at the weekend and produce a couple of home-made bottles of crème de mures (or crème de cassis if you have a handy currant bush) to impress people with.
Jacqueline says you’ll need:
1.5 kg ripe blackcurrants
2 litres of red wine (NOT the absolutely cheapest plonk)
Wash the blackcurrants or blackberries, place in an earthenware pot or pyrex bowl and crush with a wooden spoon. Add the red wine and leave to macerate for 48 hours.
Filter, weigh the juice and add the same weight of sugar. Pour into an enamel or stainless steel saucepan (Jacqueline and I both used a Le Creuset pot) and heat to just boiling. Let it boil gently for 5 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon from time to time. Leave to cool to about 40°C, filter and bottle.
If filtered well, and bottled into sterilised bottles and well corked this will keep indefinitely. Jacqueline says that for a filter, she makes bags out of calico with loops for suspending from the legs of an upturned stool, making sure the bowl can be lifted out from between the stool legs when full! I have a Lakeland jam stand – I’m not awfully fond of it, given that these days it’s a bit peely, but it does the job. Don’t be tempted to hurry up the filtering process – just leave gravity to do its job.