Blackcurrants ripen in mid-summer, during the hottest days of the year. Here I am in the kitchen whipping up a batch of blackcurrant jam on a hot July afternoon. While jam is delicious, I’m wondering if I’ve made the best choice.
A cool cocktail to sip in the shade sounds a lot better right about now. I glance up to see a bit of gin on my shelf, and the last of the freshly harvested blackcurrants in my bowl land in a mason jar covered in gin. A quick blackcurrant gin is ready in as little as 24 hours, and it’ll still be plenty hot then too.
Blackcurrant gin is just a simple gin infusion, made the same way as homemade cassis. While cassis has warm spices and infuses for a full 6 months, blackcurrant gin is a light infusion with a hint of lemon and no other spices. There’s a good bit of sugar to counteract the astringency of the blackcurrants.
We tried to make a blackcurrant-infused gin a few years ago, but instead of leaving the currants whole, we muddled them first. Big mistake. Blackcurrants are full of pectin, and they make a very thick jam without any added pectin at all.
Muddled blackcurrants covered in gin turned into a bitter blackcurrant jello. Had we put the sugar in at the beginning, it would have been edible with a spoon. The plan was to add in a simple syrup after straining, so instead our blackcurrant gin jello was just a complete loss.
This time, no mashing at all and the sugar added in at the beginning results in a delicious blackcurrant-infused gin for summertime sipping. Though I didn’t mash them, I did shake the jar frequently and that seemed to help speed the infusion along.
Though the first glass is ready for sampling in as little as 24 hours provided you shake the jar as often as you remember, it’ll have a more intense flavor after about 2-3 weeks.
To serve, simply add a bit to a glass and top with seltzer or tonic.
- 16 oz gin
- 2 cups blackcurrants
- 2/3 cup sugar (5oz)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice (or lime)
Fill a quart mason jar about halfway with fresh blackcurrants. Do not mash the currants.
Add in roughly 5 ounces or 2/3 cup of sugar, lemon juice and gin. The jar should be just about full, but if not add enough gin to fill the jar leaving 1 inch of headspace.
Allow the currants to infuse for 2-3 weeks. Strain and enjoy!
Serve cold with seltzer or tonic.