The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Blackcurrant vodka (schnapps)

In my basket are black, red and white currants

Basket of harvested currants – black, white and red

My fruit cages have given me so much pleasure, both in the construction and the ogling the of fruit. But I’ve been under pressure recently and only had time to pick raspberries.

“Tonight I must have half an hour to pick the currants (white/red/black) otherwise I’ll miss them.”
So Danny volunteered to cook the vegetables and I sauntered down to the currant and gooseberry patch with a large trug.

There was a reasonable harvest from the white currant bush. Just enough to make one bottle of white currant vodka. The dessert gooseberry bush had three berries and I counted less than a hundred redcurrant berries. Suddenly I saw a large bunch hanging on a branch. My heart sank when I realised it was just the picture on the label that still hung on the bush.

By this stage I sensed that the blackcurrant harvest might be sparse. I struggled to find a handful. Only a week ago the bushes were full of pendulous bunches of fruit, hanging like chandeliers in a retro lighting showroom. What had gone wrong?

Then I noticed that the earth beneath my feet felt well turned and springy. Birds might be excluded by the netting but creatures can that dig under the nets clearly have an easy entrance. The Great Escape in reverse. I don’t know what animal it is exactly – moles, mice, rats or maybe Danny. Clearly I’m providing a lot of the village wildlife with their five a day.

We have a large wild blackcurrant bush that self seeded in the rose border about five years ago. The fruit of this bush is usually my annual present to the birds. It has a spread of at least eight feet and is impossible to net.

Thinking of the three litres of cheap vodka waiting to be turned into something amazing, I secured the fruit cage door and sped off to examine the wild blackcurrant bush. I was surprised to find that it had quite a bit of fruit. Some fruit had even dried on the stems. Clearly the Wildlife Special Branch had concentrated so hard on infiltrating the fruit cage that they’d forgotten my gift to the nation. So I stole their fruit. And I didn’t feel guilty at all.

I picked and picked and made my first batch of blackcurrant vodka tonight, using Clare’s link to this Danish Blackcurrant Schnapps recipe. Usually I add sugar to my fruit vodka so I’ll be interested to see how it turns out.

I reckon that this recipe is a winner as it explains how to tinker with the schnapps to get it exactly how you’d like it to taste and that’s the art of liqueur making.


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14 Comments

  1. Sorry to hear your crop isn’t as good as you hoped, but you did make me laugh – the bit about seeing the picture on the label!

    PS You’re right about the tinkering. That’s what Dan does with his Limoncello. This year’s is his best ever.

  2. magic cochin

    A night vision web-cam in the fruit cage would reveal interesting goings on!

    Your shelves must be groaning with bottles of fruit liqueurs!

    BTW the ‘summer pudding’ jellies were fantastic – I added a dash of last year’s Damson Vodka, the result was a very sophisticated! Now what flavour jelly shall I make next?

    Celia

  3. Hi

    I’ve just discovered your site whilst looking for a way of using my redcurrant juice as a sort of redcurrant cassis or schnapps. I’m going to try a small amount mixing just juice with vodka, with no leaves or actual berries unless I go back to my allotment in the next hour or so. I’m also going to try a bottle of the same mixture but with sugar. Any idea what’ll happen?

    Looks like a really intersting blog – I’ve bookmarked you so I can sit and have a read later when I’m not dealing with redcurrant juice!

    Best wishes
    Nicky

  4. The Organic Viking

    Sounds yum! Thanks for the recipe link too – I’m determined to make some of my own additions to my ‘strange alcohols of the world’ shelf this year!
    Sal

  5. Thanks Fiona!!! Now I know what to do with my Red currants!!! Cool!!!

  6. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Sally

    I’d love to taste that Limoncello!

    Hi Magic Cochin

    Our shelves were groaning with fruit liqueurs now I’m restocking! Loads of wine though.

    Hi Nicky

    I have no idea what will happen. The fruit has natural yeasts, I think in the skin, so it might be worth picking a handful and tossing them into the bottles when you next go down to the allotment. You can add fruit for a few days afer you have made the grog.

    The sugar helps start the fermentation process (very mild- that’s why you can use bottles with screw on lids from the word go.

    Hi The organic Viking

    Expensive to make but so gluggable! Fruit liqueurs are delicious and always well worth making.

    Hi Pat

    You can’t beat red currant vodka. Lovely fresh, clean summery taste deep in the heart of winter – if you can keep it that long!

  7. Marcia

    Hello, this sounds like a great way to use blackcurrants – I have last years lot still in the freezer (not knowing what to do with them) do you think they wll still be ok to use for this?

  8. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Marcia

    Yes, the recipe says that you can use frozen berries.

    I’d love to hear how you get on.

  9. Marcia

    Will let you know………..I was checking really that it was ok to use berries that have been in the freezer for a year (last years lot) – will give it a go anyway!

  10. I will definitely try this. Blackcurrants are FOTG (food of the gods)

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