Recipe: crème de cassis (black currant liqueur)
I have been waiting nearly a year to post this recipe. Why so long? It’s because I foraged a seasonal item and then spent a month macerating it such that when it was ready, no one anywhere was going to find it. So let’s rewind to early July of last year when I went foraging with my gal pals. I can get single-minded at times which can be a good and a bad thing. In this instance, my eyes were on black currants, because I had it in my head that I would make crème de cassis.
we found golden currants
and black currants
i love the fatties
Even though currants may be past the flowering stage now (they’re flowering in the mountains, but done on the plains), Wendy has a nice and informative little post on currants and how to identify them. These suckers are everywhere. Even my shooting partner has one in his yard, but the crows always eat the berries before I can get over there. Imagine my delight when I scored about 1.5 lbs. last year! [Pro tip: wear dark colored clothing when processing the currants.]
i plucked off all of the stems and non-berry bits
So, you may or may not encounter this with your currants, but there were some tiny white worms that had taken up residence in the black currants. Wendy had always told me that if I wanted to forage, I’d have to get used to worms and pests. “It’s just protein,” she’d smile. I tried removing as many as possible, but after a while you just take a deep breath and stop worrying about it. The liquid was going to be strained anyway… twice! Plus, don’t they have a giant worm in tequila? I eventually learned to get over my issues with worms during porcini mushroom season. Okay then!
place in a food processor
pulse it enough to cut each berry, but don’t purée it
Once the berries are good and chopped (you may want to do that part in batches), place them in a large glass jar with the vodka. I’m not a vodka connoisseur and I’m not really interested in dropping a lot of money for experimental infusions, so I used my “cheapest vodka on the shelf”. Seal the jar and give it a big ole swish, then hide it away in a cool, dark place for a month. Be sure to mark your calendar so you don’t forget about it. I know how summer can get all busy and distracted like that.
place the currants in a large jar
cover them with vodka
after a month
The next step is the part that will make certain people mad, because it involves 1) math and 2) weighing the liquid. [Aside: I’ve had some commenters tell me that “in America, we use cups”. If you know me AT ALL, you know that I’m biting my tongue to keep from typing what I really think.] A kitchen scale is probably one of the more useful tools I’ve ever purchased for cooking and especially for baking. It comes in quite handy for this recipe, although you can get around it if you’re really into measuring volumes and converting to weights using densities. Your call.
straining out the solids
straining the liquid a second time through a fine-mesh sieve
Determine the weight of the strained liquid. To make black currant liqueur, calculate 20% of the weight of the strained liquid. That is the weight of sugar that you should add to the liquid. To make crème de cassis, calculate 45% of the weight of the strained liquid and add that amount of sugar. I split my batch of black currant infusion in two and made both.
add the sugar and stir until it is dissolved
crème de cassis and black currant liqueur
I definitely prefer the crème de cassis to the black currant liqueur. Wendy doesn’t like black currants in general and says they remind her of Flintstones chewable vitamins. The black currant liqueur tastes like a fine cough syrup, but I hate cough syrup. It’s easy enough to add more sugar and make it into a crème de cassis. Make a glass of kir with a white burgundy (chablis) and crème de cassis (5:1 or 10:1 ratio) or swap out the wine for some sparkling wine or champagne for a kir royale. I love it when foraged foods get all fancy like that.
24 oz. black currants, washed and stemmed
48 oz. (6 cups) vodka
sugar (amount will depend on the weight of your strained liquid)
Crush the black currants in small batches in a food processor. You don’t want a purée, you just want to maim the currants and break the skins. Place the currants in a large (2+ quart capacity) glass jar with the vodka. Seal the jar tightly. Shake it up and let sit in a cool, dark place for a month. When the infusion is ready, strain the liquid through a fine mesh sieve twice. Weigh the liquid.
To make black currant liqueur: Multiply the weight of your liquid by 20% to get the weight of sugar you need to add to the liquid. [In math speak… weight of liquid = L, weight of sugar = 0.2 x L]. Stir the sugar into the infusion until it is dissolved. Makes about 2 quarts (probably less).
To make crème de cassis: Multiply the weight of your liquid by 45% to get the weight of sugar you need to add to the liquid. [Weight of liquid = L, weight of sugar = 0.45 x L]. Stir the sugar into the infusion until it is dissolved. Makes just over 2 quarts.
more goodness from the use real butter archives
|red currant cake
|vanilla extract (homemade)