I went to visit my parents last week – well, actually, I went to visit the cutest new puppy in the world, Teazel – and came back with a huge carrier bag of blackcurrants (and some over-enthusiastic dog inflicted chew marks, but I forgive her). I remember being struck by a blackcurrant leaf sorbet I came across at Ballymaloe, which made me realise that the leaf itself is almost an echo of the scent of the fruit; it smells of crouching to collect the berries with a plastic container and the sun on your back, verdant and winey. If the leaf sorbet tastes of the promise of future harvest, with a bag of ripe currants I wanted a sorbet that would capture the taste of late summer bounty. I wanted to distil pure blackcurrant essence into a sorbet. And, not to blow my own trumpet, but I succeeded. This thing is so heady with flavour it’s difficult to eat very much of it – a bit like drinking neat Ribena, but less sweet and with a more beautiful colour. Blackcurrants rival beetroot for the most lovely of food hues, I think (and the most messy stains left in the kitchen).
So most of the credit for this actually belongs to Roger Verge, whose recipe for raspberry sorbet I used as my guideline. The fruit isn’t cooked, so it tastes fresher, as if it’s just been picked. Enough sugar is added to enhance the taste without messing about with it – I increased the amount only slightly from the raspberry recipe, so it’s not too sweet (but neither is it sour enough to make your mouth pucker). The perfect sophisticated finish to a summery meal.
juice of 2 lemons
300g caster sugar, or to taste
First, I highly recommend putting on an apron. There will be purple juice everywhere. Next, puree the blackcurrants in a blender – don’t worry about topping and tailing them as the next stage will remove any debris. Press the puree through a sieve, getting as much as possible out. This will involve some quite hard work with a wooden spoon.
Add the sugar and lemon juice and whisk to dissolve. Taste to check the sugar levels – remember it will taste less sweet when frozen, so you want it to be a tiny bit sweeter than you’d ideally like.
Churn the sorbet in an ice-cream machine until fairly firm – I found it didn’t freeze as much as ice-cream, but the final texture was still good. Decant into a tub and freeze until solid. It doesn’t seem to need long out of the freezer before becoming scoopable, which is a bonus – as is the fact that, because of the robustness of the flavour, it should last longer than a normal sorbet without the taste dulling.
Adapted from Roger Verge’s ‘Cuisine of the Sun’ via Ballymaloe