This is my cleaned-up homemade version of how to make the popular Ribena blackcurrant syrup. I sure have enough blackcurrants to go around! If you asked where we were last week, chances are it was in the yard picking them. Hard work, let me tell ya! We didn’t weigh the result, but I think it came to about 15lbs — that’s a lot of hunching over and picking! The berries are way too tart to eat, but make great jam, or syrup, that’s exactly what I did!
We always had Ribena in the fridge in my parent’s house, and some bottles found their way into my current fridge by way of my mom. Since I have all these blackcurrants, I can make my own, and without any artificial preservatives.
Here is what you do. Pour your blackcurrants into a sink filled with water. This will make all the impurities, leaves, and stray spiders, etc… rise to the surface. Skim them off, then drain the water. Transfer the blackcurrants into large cooking pots, filling about 3/4 of the way up. Don’t worry about the little twigs and papery ends on the berries, because it will all get sieved.
Yes, sugar, lots. If you have the means, feel free to substitute coconut palm sugar, sucanat, or rapadura, all of which are great unprocessed white sugar alternatives that you can swap on a 1:1 ratio. You can also use honey, but keep in mind that it doesn’t have the same thickening properties and the syrup would be very runny, more like juice.
Blackcurrants are very tart, so you definitely need a sweetening agent, but not just for taste. Sugar also acts as a preservative by literally sucking moisture out of microbes. This will make sure you can store the syrup in the fridge for weeks. I give a rough guideline for how much sugar you need in the recipe, but the rule of thumb is to use less and add more as you taste test to make the blackcurrants palatable. It’s always easier to add than subtract later.
Now the sieving. See, I told you not to worry about stray twigs and ends on the blackcurrants — after you cooked down the fruit and sugar mixture and it cools a bit, you sieve it through. The more vigorous you are, the more fibre will sieve though, making the syrup richer and tastier. So put your arm into it!
End result: LOTS of blackcurrant syrup. This is not a small bowl, about 5 litres:
Now how to store all this. I have more than I will use in the next few weeks, so I poured off a small batch into jars for immediate use/gifts, and poured the rest into freezer bags. You can also freeze in plastic containers, but remember to leave enough space at the top for expansion.
Note: It’s a good idea to sterylize your jars with boiling water prior to use. It will make them very hot… so whatever you do, don’t cool them down with cold water. This makes them kerplode. I know how stupid it sounds, but that’s precisely what I did. I just shake my head!!!
Pretty syrup in the only jars I had left:
Comments, questions? Let me know and I’ll do my best to answer.
- 1lb blackcurrants
- ½lb white sugar, or alternatives: coconut palm sugar, sucanat, or rapadura (use slightly more, or less sugar according to your taste)
- 1 cup of water
- Pour the blackcurrants into a sink filled with water and skim off impurities like leaves and floating twigs, then drain the water. Transfer the blackcurrants into large cooking pots, filling about ¾ of the way up. Pour in the sugar and water and mix. Set the heat on medium and cover. Cook for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for another 10 minutes, until all the juices run.
- Remove from heat and let cool enough to handle comfortably. Pass the mixture though a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl. Pour into sterylized bottles, or freeze in plastic bags, or containers for later use.
- Will keep in the fridge for 2 – 3 weeks. Use frozen syrup within 3 months.
- To serve, dilute the syrup in water, to taste.