Regular readers know that this blog doesn’t like waste. It can always find a second use for things. Plastic and paper bags go in a kitchen drawer for another time, silver foil is washed, dried and folded for future use, crushed eggshells are part of my anti-slug warfare. They don’t like it up ‘em, as Cpl Jones would say.
This policy also goes for food and drink. I have just strained a two litre jar of damsons and blackberries in gin, bottled this time last year. The resultant liquor, a fiery red, will go down very nicely as autumn blends into winter. I will probably drink it neat as the juices and sugar will have diluted the gin (I got two almost full 75cl bottles) down from 40ABV to less than 20.
But I’m not going throw out the brownish coloured fruit. It still contains alcohol and will be the makings of a tipsy jam or a drunken chutney. But I haven’t got time now as I’m too busy picking more damsons, plums, blackberries and, if I get around to them, rowans for rowan jelly. And I don’t want to miss the elderberries, hips and haws.
So the fruit has gone into the freezer to wait until a rainy day to become a jam or chutney. Or perhaps a granita.
Earlier this month I furtled around the cellar and discovered a big Kilner jar of blackcurrants in vodka from the previous year which had been forgotten. It was hiding behind the brown sauce. Once strained, through a plastic sieve and jelly bag, it turned out to be one of the best drinks I’d made. It’s not just me saying that: my stepson David took home half a bottle.
That left me with the fruit. I’m sorry, I didn’t make notes but this is one of those easy recipes you can adjust as you go along. I simmered the fruit in a little water with sugar. The general rule is to add about one fifth to one quarter sugar to the weight of fruit but that will depend on the sweetness of the fruit.
Taste as you go remembering to make things a little sweeter than you’d like because freezing reduces the perception of sweetness.
I let it cool, whizzed it in the blender and pushed it through a sieve. Then I added a slug or two more of the blackcurrant vodka and froze it in an old ice cream carton.
It’s a very soft freeze because of the boozy berries. Not all the alcohol evaporates at a simmer. And I added a little more. Sometimes I have to scrape my granita with a fork as it freezes to a solid block. This was more like an adult Ribena Slush Puppy.
And very nice it is, too, when we want something light to finish off a meal. And I can serve it with a shot of blackcurrant vodka. This way I’ve extended the pleasure of picking the fruit in the first place, with memories that can be drunk and eaten.
So that’s two items on the menu for the price of one. I’m very happy and so are the wee beasties in my compost bin. The pulp that didn’t go through the sieve finished up in there.