Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Experiments with Currants; Good and Bad

'Champagne Pink' Currants
I guess one never really knows how a thing will turn out. Even basing one recipe on another that was a success does not guarantee perfection. So here's what happened. A friend asked me to come with her to an older gentleman's house to pick vegetables from his wonderful garden. Turns out, he loves the planting and care of the garden, which is  huge, but is not as interested in trying to eat all that produce. The garden is a veritable paradise; everything laid out in perfect rows, or caged to grow upwards. Everything perfectly weeded. Neat and tidy and just bursting at the seams with great produce. Aside from just vegetables, there are fruit trees and other wonderful bushes, like the "Champagne Pink" Currants.

My friend raved about the currants, and how pretty they are and how good to eat, but she said she didn't have the time to devote to picking the little things. So, when we arrived, I took it upon myself to pick currants. They are so pretty it almost hurts. They look like little pearls; palest pink. They hang on the plant like little strands of pearls, too. Just the prettiest sight ever. I spent the entire time there picking these little gems, ending up with 3 1/2 pounds of them.
'Champagne Pink' Currant Dehydrator Jam
Okay, so what to do with them? I have made jams and jellies in past. I have also made freezer jam with Sure Jell, and made dehydrator jam when I was on a RAW food diet. Since it is wise to watch the sugar intake, I decided to take the route of making dehydrator jam. I hadn't used the dehydrator in some time, so I dusted it off and got to work. I cleaned all those tiny fruits, and in batches I whirled them in the food processor. Unfortunately the seeds are large, for such tiny fruit, and quite a distraction, so I decided to pass them through a strainer. I added in some honey for sweetness, since the fruit is tart, with the belief (wrongly) that once the fruit dehydrated down, the honey sweetness would become more apparent. Long and short, I ended up with 6 cups of puree with honey. I divided it up between two old Tupperware marinating containers; low and flat. I set them in the dehydrator at 5 PM, and let it run through the night. I pulled the containers out to stir them at 10 PM, and then again at 5 AM. They were still a little too runny at 5 AM, so I left them until about 8. I ended up with a grand total of 2 1/2 cups worth.
'Champagne Pink' Currant-ade
I tasted my wonderful pink jam. OMG. It was so mouth-puckeringly tart. No way would most people use this. And then I thought what a terrible waste of so much work picking all that fruit, to end up with a jam that was inedible. Well, not totally, because I like it okay. But it is really tart. So, how could I use it? The first thought was that since it was a very tart medium with only a little sweetness, it might make a lemonade type drink. This was a wonderful bit of serendipity. It did taste quite like a lemonade in its tartness. I used 3 tablespoons of the jam in a 12 ounce glass of water. It had a lot of pulp that wanted to settle, but it was wonderful and refreshing.

My next thought was to make some kind of ice cream like dessert. I made a RAW Cashew Currant "Ice Cream", in quotes because it used no cream or dairy. I had soaked the cashews ahead and put them in the food processor with 1/2 cup of the currant jam and more honey. I added a little vanilla and ginger and processed the mixture till fine and chilled it. I put it into my old DAK Gelatissimo and oh, it was good.  Okay, 2 for 2.
Cashew Currant Ice Cream

That night I made pork chops. I have often made pork chops by setting them in a cold fry pan and heating up to medium high. I season the top with salt and pepper and once browned underneath, flip them over and season that side, adding in chopped garlic, either rosemary or sage and some Marion blackberry jam. The pork chops are just divine this way. So on the basis of that idea, I made my pork chops and used 1 tablespoon of my dehydrator currant jam on each pork chop, with sage as the herb of choice. The pork chops were just wonderful. The fruity flavor came through brightly. The whole combination was just perfect. So far that is all I have done with my too tart Champagne Pink Currant Dehydrator Jam. My next thought is to try making a frozen granita. I will see where that takes me.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.