The Cottage Smallholder

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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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  1. Charles

    I made redcurrant gin last year – it is great.

    400gms redcurrants and 200gms sugar

    • Hi there, how much fun did you add?

      • Gin not fun!!

      • Fiona Nevile

        Hi Natalie, for 400g of redcurrants and 200g of sugar I would use a litre bottle of gin – with some taken out to make space for the fruit and sugar. The fun comes when you drink it 😉

  2. I have an absolute abundance of red currants (all 6 bushes fruited very well this year) and I want to make red currant vodka. Can anyone give me an idea of quantities of fruit and sugar?

  3. Shereen

    Hi Fiona. I’ve just been gifted a large bowl of blackcurrants so I’ll be trying the schnapps recipe on Saturday. Thank-you yet again for coming through with a recipe when I need one.

  4. I used to do something similar to this when I was stationed in Korea. Only I would use soju instead of gin. You can do basically the same thing with most any fruit, but have found berries to work the best.

  5. I’ve tried in vain to find my original comment and add info there, but this seems a much better place.

    We decanted and bottled our blackcurrant vodka last night (we’re giving some away for Christmas) into tiny little bottles that my mum collects – she buys those small one-person bottles of wine from the supermarket and has been faithfully hoarding them for us for months now.

    I literally just chucked the blackcurrants into a bottle of vodka with a couple of spoonfuls of sugar back in June/July so unsurprisingly the resultant pink liquor was a little harsh.

    I made a stock syrup (1 cup water, 1 cup sugar) in which I simmered the drained blackcurrants to make a sweet blackcurrant syrup (I noticed that they have a very different flavour when cooked).

    The syrup was then tested with the vodka to find the right proportions (what a nice activity for a December Sunday!) and we settled on 1 part sugar syrup to 4 parts vodka to make a rich liquer. If you like a harsh schnapps then use much less, but we were aiming for a creme de cassis-a-like.

    The final product is gorgeous – mellow and fruity and redolent of summer.

    How is anyone else getting on? I now have my 6 huge kilner jars of raspberry gin/vodka to deal with!

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