Currant affairs

July 28, 2010

It’s always nice to discover that you chime with the zeitgeist. Hence I felt particularly smug on Sunday when listening to Radio 4’s Food Programme and its item on producers who are trying to revive the fortunes of “minor berries” – traditional British crops such as gooseberries and blackcurrants which, with the exception of  the Booth’s chain in Northern England, are ignored by the supermarkets in favour of the aggressively marketed North American  invader the blueberry.  I was at the time poring over a huge bowl of blackcurrants picked the previous day from the allotment of my friends Rob and Elie. And I blogged on gooseberries earlier in the month.

Blackcurrants are not difficult to grow, though they are a bit of a faff to prepare if you want to use them whole. So my preference was to blitz them and make sorbet.  To my mind sorbet has to be a balance between sharp and sweet , and hence the tartness of blackcurrants makes them ideal.  What’s more it’s an aesthetic pleasure to work with such beautiful a colour.

I had about a kilo of berries which I simmered for just a couple of minutes with half a pint of water before whizzing in a blender and leaving to cool. Then I made a syrup by heating  3/4 pint of water with 10 oz of sugar and the zest and juice of a lemon. When cool I mixed them together and churned in the  ice-cream maker for around 25 minutes until fairly thick and slushy and then folded in two whisked egg whites before going in the freezer to firm up – probably at least three hours. 

 The result is sweet enough to bring out the flavour but not too sweet to mask it.


One Response to “Currant affairs”

  1. Sandra Wilson said

    The area between Dundee and Perth as you know is locally referred to as Berry country due to the fields of strawberries and raspberries. As a child I used to go with my family on the berry bus and pick fruit – although I probably ate more than I earned 🙂 Prof Annie Anderson here at Dundee Uni also does her fair share to promote the benefits of berries see

    Incidentally you might also be interested in the blog of my good friend Steve Brogan who is doing a phd here on food systems and sustainability see


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