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currant affairs: sunberry juice

July 1, 2012

Another enduring taste of my childhood showed up yesterday. Black currants, flanked by their more photogenic siblings, red, pink & white, arrived at the Fulton Farmers Market with Mary Dirty Face Farm. Last year I was already weighed down with an abundance of produce to deal with when I spotted them. I ooohed and aaahhhhed, deliberated, tried to figure out if I had time to process them in addition to everything else, took photos, and then… just when I had decided life is short, seize the currant(s). They were sold out. So much for mom’s black currant jam.

This year, when I heard it was currant weekend at Fulton, I planned accordingly. Rhubarb was dealt with in advance. I got to the market early, scoped out the available supply, and waited a polite interval (you know, to give anyone else who wanted some a chance), and then pounced on them. 6 quarts of black currants (plus a quart of pink ones & 2 quarts of gooseberries) and 2 little black currant plants were mine before the market had been open an hour.

I fully intended on making mom’s jam. I still may… if there are more black currants next week. While I was patiently waiting my turn, Anton was asked what one does with black currants. “Jam, pie, juice,” he said.


Given how much we love homemade juices, I was intrigued. When questioned, he described a process similar to mom’s rhubarb juice formula: After the berries are stemmed and rinsed, put them in a pot and add just enough water to a pot full of berries so that you can see the water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or so. Strain through a sieve and add a bit of sugar to the resulting juice concentrate. And by “a bit” of sugar, I mean measure the resulting juice, then add up to half that much sugar (so for 2 cups of unsweetened, juice feel your way up to 1 cup of sugar). I added mom’s final step of bringing the sweetened juice back to a boil, but if you don’t make much, and are drinking it right away, it may not be necessary. After it’s cooled down, dilute to taste  (sparkling water works amazingly well), add ice & enjoy!

As it turns out, the whole “after the berries are stemmed” part was a bit of a backbreaking ordeal. They are sticky little buggers with tiny stems a plenty. It was worth it though. In this weekend’s 100 degree heat, black currant juice was a welcome refreshment. As a bonus, I heard from mom after I posted a picture of my beet-red, berry-juice-stained hands on facebook. Apparently, back in the day, black currant juice concentrate was so well thought of that it was prescribed to my grandmother when she started having trouble with her liver. Mom also reminded me that in Danish, black currants are call “solbær” or sunberries. I rather like that.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 3, 2012 7:57 am

    Yum (& pretty !) Did you see this on freshly pressed?

    • July 5, 2012 11:04 am

      I hadn’t, but I just took a look. I’m so enamored with my mom’s version of rhubarb juice – it’s nice to see other people discovering how great it is!

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