We have a glut of epic proportions in the kitchen garden at Thyme. The forty blackcurrant bushes we planted in the autumn of 2015 are dripping with fruit. When you are planting blackcurrants bear in mind that each bush will yield 5-7kg of fruit, so don’t underestimate your harvest. Get those bottles, jars and freezer bags ready!
The perfect source for your daily Vitamin C intake, blackcurrants are not difficult to grow, with modern varieties being impressively disease resistant. Bare-root bushes should be put into well-manured, free draining soil in the autumn; choose a sunny spot, feed & prune late autumn/winter and remember that those delicious clusters of berries form on the new wood, so prune carefully. We haven’t planted in fruit cages, we don’t mind a little caring & sharing with the blackbirds; but if you only have one or two bushes, netting is essential.
We are growing an array of currants to ensure a long season, we love the ‘Ben’ varieties, developed in Scotland from the mid-1970s and named after Scottish Mountains (just as the raspberries developed by the James Hutton Institute are named after Scottish Glens). Our favourites are ‘Ben Connan’ & ‘Big Ben’, both of which have kept our chefs and their jam pans busy all summer.
Blackcurrants pair beautifully with herbal flavours, blackcurrant & lemon verbena jam and this recipe for blackcurrant & basil cordial have been hugely successful. Make this simple cordial and mix with sparkling or soda water for the perfect cooler for the summer gardener ...
- 450g Blackcurrants
- 1 bunch Basil
- 1 un-waxed lemon, sliced
- 450ml hot water
- 600g caster sugar
- 1tsp citric acid
- Preheat the oven to 180°c.
- Wash the blackcurrants thoroughly and drain.
- Place the blackcurrants in a ceramic dish, add the water and sugar.
- Stir to dissolve and add the lemon and citric acid.
- Cover with foil and place in the oven for approx. 45 minutes until the blackcurrants are lovely and soft.
- Remove from the oven, add the basil leaves, set aside. Leave for 24 hours to steep.
- Sterilize your bottles in a 110°C oven for 20-30 minutes.
- Strain through muslin or a fine sieve before bottling and sealing. Store in a dark, cool place and refrigerate after opening. It should keep for 2-3 months.