I remember ribena ::::
In April, the air became cold again. Winter, why do you keep trying to come back? Here in Georgia, we were teased by a brief period of warm before that veil of chill. The tulips popped up. The pom-pom flower trees bloomed in March then faded early April. The magnolia trees didn’t look quite so crusty. The brown lawns crispy from effects of the freezing winter speckled with green. Then, brrrrr.
Spring is a period of rebirth, so is life moving forward. I’m entering into the foray of medical narrative essay writing. I’m voraciously reading fiction and non-fiction but keep adding to my to-read list that it gets longer even though I read more. Mother’s Day and my birthday are less than a week apart. Our wedding anniversary is coming up at the end of the month. The blog is lost in the shuffle. I’ve alluded to this before, but the information I share here has a bit of a rosy hue to it. I can’t talk about the nitty-gritty of work on a food blog (gross!), nor can I spill family dirty laundry all over your computer screens without facing the consequences of it later. My time is limited and so are my topics. And it’s not really fair to the situations I’m throwing under the bus (tweens and elementary aged children, anyone?).
I can’t take the bipolar’s spring indecision if it wants to cuddle up with winter a little more. Spring, the one that actually stayed around without the fingers of winter pulling it back, feels bubbly this year with hopeful green. I’m here to encourage the new season while I write random things and make springy food. This springy food is reminiscent of various springs I’ve witnessed, with tight buds and berries barely beginning, anticipation of the stigmata of sticky juices on our hands with fresh fruit in the summer.
Here, blackcurrants take me back to drinking Ribena in the summer when I spent short yet formative years in Cambridge, England. Besides the lovely taste, my first thought when drinking Ribena or eating currant candies is Why don’t we have more mass market for black and red currants in the U.S.? It’s so much better than artificial grape flavor or a tenuous grape jelly.
Fresh currants are not easy to find in the U.S. usually, at least not in Georgia. I first found them at a farmers’ market when I made my apple and red currant pie with a lovely flower cut-out crust three (?!) years ago, but only in frozen form. The black currants awaited patiently for my candy making this year, still in the same location in the freezer section (though undoubtedly not the same containers from three years ago).
This blackcurrant pâte de fruit is based on the Boiron table from a Michael Laiskonis website I’ve referenced in my other pâte de fruit making. You don’t need the special Boiron brand of the fruit for this recipe. Still a winner recipe and hard to not want to try every flavor combo possible. No matter the weather, these will bounce you into spring and summer effortlessly.
One year ago: horenso no gomaae (spinach gomaae)
Two years ago: potato latkes
Three years ago: passion fruit pâte de fruit
Six years ago: chawanmushi (comfort food!)
- 500g blackcurrants, pureed. I used thawed from frozen.
- 72.5g granulated sugar #1
- 14g yellow pectin
- 450 ml apple juice (100% juice, not "beverage" or "cocktail")
- 650g granulated sugar #2
- 120 ml corn syrup or glucose
- 10g citric acid, mixed with 10 ml water
- sanding sugar (though regular granulated sugar works too)
- Other equipment: candy thermometer, 9x13-in pan
- In a large saucepan, stir together the pureed blackcurrants and apple juice. Bring to boil.
- Mix sugar #1 and pectin in a bowl so it is evenly distributed. This helps keep the pectin from clumping up when you add it to the liquid. You MUST do this step or you will fail!
- Whisk in the sugar-pectin mix into the blackcurrant-juice mix. Bring to boil.
- Add sugar #2 and corn syrup and mix well. Clip the candy thermometer to the side of the pot and cook to 107 deg C (224.6 deg F) while constantly stirring with the whisk (or wooden spoon works).
- When at temp, add citric acid-water mix, stir well, and quick add entire fruit mixture to 9x13-inch pan on flat surface. Leave undisturbed for at least 3 hours, up to 24 hours to set completely. Keep at room temperature. I've also left this pan undisturbed for 48 hours without issues (just make sure you don't have an ant problem -- they will swarm!).
- Sprinkle sanding sugar onto large cutting board, loosen gelled pâte de fruit from pan, and flip onto cutting board. Cut into squares or use aspic cutters for cute shapes. Dredge in sanding sugar completely and allow to dry on wire rack overnight or serve immediately with Ribena on your mind.