Homemade blackcurrant liqueur is simple to make, provided you can find a source of fresh blackcurrants. In the United States, that can be a challenge, but they’re becoming more common at farmers’ markets and food coops.
I’ve heard that even in the UK, where they’re quite popular in cooking and backyard gardens, it’s hard to find them outside of the farmer’s market. Once you have blackcurrants, it only takes a few minutes to make your own cassis.
We always have a bumper crop of blackcurrants in the summertime. It’s a strange thing to have in abundance, but our land is both shady and wet, which isn’t good for growing most things. That is, except black currants.
Blackcurrants thrive in shade and wet, soggy soils. In fact, planting blackcurrants in a sunny spot is a sure recipe for killing them. The leaves tend to burn in the sun, and the plants will be stunted. Our blackcurrants are in almost full shade, planted under mature evergreens in the woods of Vermont.
Every year we make blackcurrant jam, dozens upon dozens of jars. It’s delicious and versatile, but I’m always looking for new blackcurrant recipes.
Last year we tried out blackcurrant mead (honey wine), and it was a huge success. Home fermenting can be messy and time-intensive, and liqueurs are much simpler.
How to Make Blackcurrant Liqueur
The most famous use of black currants is creme de cassis, a blackcurrant liqueur. The astringency of the blackcurrants is cut by the sweetness of cane sugar, resulting in a delightful cordial.
It’s easy enough to make. All it takes is a bit of mid-shelf vodka, blackcurrants, sugar and spices if you choose. I like to add in a cinnamon stick for a bit of warmth.
Though the blackcurrants ripe in July, the liqueur will be best about 6 months later. Remember that when you’re choosing your spices. Think warm winter spices, with a hint of Christmas cheer.
While most recipes will have you add nearly equal parts fruit and sugar, I think that’s a bit over the top. This cassis recipe is plenty sweet but still allows you to taste the fruit.
Blackcurrant Liqueur (Homemade Creme de Cassis)
This easy-to-make blackcurrant liqueur puts store-bought versions to shame. The warm spices make it perfect for holiday cocktails.
- 2 cups Blackcurrants
- 750 ml Vodka about 3 cups
- 1 cup cane sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
Wash the blackcurrants and pick them over for spoiled fruit. Stemming is optional. Blackcurrant leaves and stems are often used for flavoring in many different foods, and they'll only add more tannin and depth to the cassis.
Place the blackcurrants, cinnamon stick and sugar in a quart mason jar. Add the vodka. The vodka may not quite fit in the jar, but fill it up as much as you can.
Cover the jar and store in a dark place for several months, shaking anytime you remember.
After 2 to 3 months, strain the mixture. Bottle it up and allow it to mature for another few months. Enjoy!