Sunday, October 4, 2009

Home-made crème de cassis, part two

Back in July I put a jar of blackcurrants and grain alcohol. Yesterday, I got the jar out of the cupboard to do the last steps to make it crème de cassis, with the help of my devoted assistant, Aldara.

This summer, Jessica made some jelly from the other currants we harvested—redcurrants and gooseberry. She ordered a jelly strainer on-line so I set it up to strain the currant-infused grain alcohol into a pot:

Assistant Aldara enthusiastically spooned out the first few scoops of currants, dropping only a small handful into the pot. I then poured the rest of the mixture into the strainer and we waited a half hour or so for it to strain out all the alcohol:

I ended up with a little over 2 cups. Most of the recipes I found on-line call for an equal amount of water and an enormous amount of sugar: over a pound for 4 cups of liquid. I decided to underdo both other quantities so I added a cup and a half of water and started with 8 oz. of sugar. I brought it to a boil and cooked the mixture for 2 minutes (I don't know how rigorous a timing that is in terms of sterilization, but after all there's a hell of a lot of booze in there!). I let it cool and after tasting it, decided it was a little too bitter. Not bad, but the crème's role is partly as sweetener after all. I added another 4 oz. or so of sugar and heated the pot enough to melt it.

I poured it (once more through a strainer (and funnel, of course)) into this pretty bottle I have that used to contain Los Danzantes mezcal (there's also some in a less pretty bottle):

Since our household is awaiting a second baby there's not a lot of drinking going on these days, but I think I'll hazard a little kir for me and th'wife at lunch today.


Eater said...

Do you squish the berries before straining? In the pic it looks like no. Might help the yield.

When I made a sour-cherry shrub over the summer, the cherries sucked up all the liquid and gave it up only after significant pressing.


Matt Madden said...

I lightly mashed the currants before steeping, using a potato masher. I've read in various straining recipes that crushing the berries can bring out bitter juice.

I actually tried squishing them into a separate bowl and found a) it wasn't noticeably more bitter and b) there wasn't much more juice in there.

The extra-long steeping time made a big difference in flavor, by the way, and this crème is far superior to my earlier batches, if I do say so myself.

Claire said...

Congrats on the second baby!! And on the new-born kir obviously :-) It looks terrific!

Paul said...

I look forward to trying the superior brew!

Have you thought about making your own orange liqueur? Sounds like you go through a lot of Cointreau.

Sassy Critic said...

Mmmm. Looks delicious. It takes patience to wait that long. I had a hard time waiting a mere 36 hours for my fancy chocolate chip cookie dough to marinate.

Did your assistant get to sample the yield?

Matt Madden said...

I figure it'll take me about 20 more years to perfect this. THEN I'll let her try it.