I have just tried redcurrants for the very first time. OK, that might be a bit of an exaggeration as I’m sure I’ve had a tart, cake or some other dessert topped with a couple of redcurrants but this is the first time, I’ve properly tried them. I’ve wanted to try them ever since I was five years old and I saw them in my mum’s The Cookery Year cook book, as they looked delicious and ever since then I’d wondered what they taste like.
Well, now I know. Redcurrants are surprisingly tart but still quite yummy and I managed to demolish the whole punnet in one sitting. Mr. D tried some too as he’d never eaten them before. Did he like them? Well, it’s quite hard to tell with him but he did say that he found the redcurrants to be quite sharp and didn’t scoff them the same way I did, so maybe it wasn’t such a big hit with him. Oh, well – all the more for me!
Redcurrants are related to the gooseberry – which might explain the tartness – and are native to western Europe, although there are similar species in Asia and North America. They’re available from July until September which means that I’ve only just managed to try them while they’re still in season. Despite their sharp taste, redcurrants are still slightly sweet enough to be eaten raw, although you’d obvious have to sprinkle them with sugar if you’d prefer them to be sweeter. They are quite rich in vitamin C and go well with other fruits and berries.
They are a surprisingly versatile fruit and can be served in a multitude of ways. They can be sprinkled with sugar and served with cream or frosted to decorate desserts and puddings. Redcurrants are also usually used as part of the mixed berries that go into making a delicious Summer Pudding. Because of their high levels of pectin, they make great jams and jellies that taste great with toast or accompanying lamb or game. That’s right – they go quite well with savoury dishes too!
So here are two quick and easy recipes using delicious redcurrants. Make these lovely delicacies before redcurrants disappear for another year!
SPICY RED ONION AND REDCURRANT RELISH
- 4 medium red onions
- 2 small red peppers,
- 1 bsp olive oil
- 2 red chilli,
- 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 2″ piece fresh ginger, chopped
- 300ml red wine vinegar
- 200g light muscovado sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp five spice powder
- 300g redcurrants, stripped from stalks
- Peel onions and cut into thin slices.
- Cut red pepper into chunks then mix with the red onion and oil.
- Fry for 5-10 mins over a high heat until lightly charred and softened.
- Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Deseed chillis and chop.
- Grate ginger and crush garlic before mixing with the chilli.
- Lightly fry chilli mixture before adding half the vinegar.
- Bring to the boil then simmer for 5 mins.
- Add the onion mixture plus the remaining vinegar, all the sugar, spice and 1 tsp salt.
- Bring to the boil then bubble away for about 5 mins until thickened.
- Add redcurrants and simmer for about 5 mins more, or until they have burst, but still have some shape and the liquid is syrupy.
- Remove and pour into a large heatproof jar. Cover and seal while hot. Keeps in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.
Taste great with sausages, cold meats and goat’s cheese.
ZESTY BERRY COMPOTE
100ml berry juice- any kind
2 tblspn. Crème de cassis
Zest of 1 lemon
1kg fresh/ frozen summer fruits (blackberries, raspberries, blackcurrants and redcurrants)
10 stems fresh redcurrants
1. Empty the jars of conserve into a large pan. Add the cassis and 200ml water. Heat until warm, then add the frozen fruits and heat for a few minutes until the berries are no longer frozen. Cool and chill.
2. Serve in glasses decorated with fresh redcurrants.
3. Also delicious served with cream, ice-cream or custard.