This year we've rented an allotment and it's been a brilliant way of making us actually grow and nurture plants. For the past few years we've attempted the whole kitchen garden 'thing' in our own garden but there's something a lot more sociable and enjoyable about gardening with your community. It's really encouraging to see our neighboring plots flourish too and after all that planting and weeding it's finally time for us to start harvesting more than just radishes and salad leaves! We've had the freshest new potatoes and a brilliant selection of herbs that aren't available in shops like Apple and Ginger Mint. For me it's a total joy to be able to stop off on my way home and pick a bunch of dill or fennel to have with our dinner. This week I picked lots of currants. I was totally unsure of what to do with the red currants though, such pretty glistening red berries but are they used for anything useful apart from decoration? A quick online search revealed that red currant jelly was my best bet but it's not something I often use. So I simply added the berries to the cordial I was making. And.. it's addictive! I used a mixture of 1/3 blackcurrants to 2/3 red and it's a rich plummy colour with a fruity fresh taste bursting with vitamins.
This recipe is so quick and easy, it actually takes just as long to make a pot of tea! I've drunk copious amounts of this cordial over the past few days and have decided that I'll infuse some mint in the next batch, it'd also be gorgeous with lime juice or diluted with champagne instead of water for the perfect summer aperitif.
Black and Redcurrant Cordial
600g currants (I used 200g black & 400g red)
1 1/2 litres water
First wash the berries. Pick through for any debris or twigs but no need to remove the berries from the stalks.
Place the berries, sugar and water into a heavy based saucepan. Bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer for five minutes until the berries burst easily.
Remove from the heat and drain through a sieve, squashing the berries against the sides of the sieve with the back of a ladle to ensure all of the juice is extracted. This makes for the fruitiest cordial but it is a little cloudy which is fine by me.
Pour the cordial into bottles and dilute with water/ champagne etc to taste!
I also made a Red currant and Spiced plum relish which I'm not sure about. It seems a little watery but does smell divine. I altered an Ottolenghi recipe for spiced plum and rhubarb relish as suggested by this blog here. I'm looking forward to trying it with cheese though and it will make a colourful fruity addition to a winter cheeseboard!