When I was a little girl my Auntie Renee and Uncle Jim had blackcurrant bushes at the bottom of their garden. For me, they are the fruit that evokes the strongest childhood memories and emotions.
Little black orbs of joy. I used to love picking them, even the little spikes, I didn't mind. Your hands got all sticky and you could steal a few, which even though they are super tart, warmed by the sun and little fingers, they tasted fine to me.
Renee and Jim are long gone, and I suspect the blackcurrant bushes are too, but my love for them lingers on.
I remember Renee making cordial, which I've never done, but I also remember piping hot pies with ice cold cream, doorsteps of bread slathered in butter and blackcurrant jam, and big wobbly blancmanges with a coarse simple sauce I suspect I would be cheffy enough to call a compote these days.
Pies were the fave in my mini world. I can remember a table being dragged out into the garden, down the back steps and pastry being rolled, by me (badly, no doubt) directly on the table's floured surface. My first real memory of cooking (but mainly just helping). I think it gave me the bug that set me off on my career path.
I remember we always cut a big cross in the top of the pies to let the steam out, we called it a kiss. And the top of the pastry was always sprinkled with a generous amount of white sugar, which gave a glorious coarse sweet crunch. It was just good old granulated. Nothing as refined as caster.
Renee had a sweet tooth, as did Jim. They liked to use sugar as only people who love it so, but had it rationed for much of their lives can. Liberally. A celebration to themselves and others that it's freely available now, that time is over.
Now my tastes have matured a little and I myself don't have much of a sweet tooth but still not much pleases me more than a pot of home made blackcurrant jelly. In one taste I'm back there in the garden, aged five getting all mucky and loving every second.
It's truly simple to make, try my recipe . You should start seeing blackcurrants in your farmers markets right now around July. Grab them quick! They don't hang around for long.