Tuesday, September 10, 2013

What to do with redcurrants

Redcurrants are berries that are not common many other places than in north/western Europe. Here in Norway they do not grow wild, they are a garden plant. Growing up we always had redcurrant bushes in our garden, but now my Grandmother is the only one left having them. The berries are quite sour, so many don't like to eat them without sugar. But they are great to use as a dessert with ice cream, or to make jam, or to do what I did with them.
Berries in a bucket! 
In Norway (and I think also other places in Scandinavia) we drink something we call saft. My American husband had never heard about it before, even though it does have a English name; squash (or cordial, juice or diluting juice according to Wikipedia). It is a "non-alcoholic concentrated syrup that is usually fruit-flavored and usually made from fruit juice, water, and sugar or a sugar substitute." Becoming saft was the destiny of my berries.

My mother has an old pressure boiler (I think that is what it is called) for this specific purpose.
Her name is Saft-Maja, and as you can see from the dead flies, she hadn't
been used in quite some time. 
You fill the bottom container with water and the top container with the berries. The steam from the water and the juice from the berries will then mix together in the middle container.
And all the way on the top you out the lid. 
I took about 45 minutes until the berries was completely collapsed and had given away all their juice. At that point it was about time to turn off the heat and pour the saft from the pressure boiler over into a pot. I used a measuring cup to do this in order for me to know exactly how much saft I had.
Sorry for varying photo quality, this point of the process was a little hectic. 
The reason for measuring the amount of saft, is to be able to calculate how much sugar to add. Since redcurrants are quite sour, I used 300 grams of sugar per liter of saft. With sweeter berries like raspberries or blueberries, you can use less sugar.

While the saft was heated up again in order to dissolve the sugar, I also heated the containers for the saft by soaking them in boiling water. I did this so that the glass jars wouldn't break when pouring the very hot saft into them.
Glass jars soaking in hot water. You can of course also use bottles. 
I chose to not add any preservatives in the saft. The sugar itself works as an preservative, but it isn't sweet enough to be very effective. I therefore filled the saft in jars that I then froze. When I take them out of the freezer, I put them in the fridge.
It has a beautiful red color! 
So how do I use it? I pour a little bit of it in a glass, then add water and maybe some ice cubes and voilĂ ! I have a refreshing alternative to water without having the huge amount of sugar and other unwanted stuff you have in sodas.
You can of course make it completely sugar free by using alternative sweeteners. You can also use it as a base for making jello or sweet red dessert sauce. 

What do you do with the berries that grow in your garden? And what are your alternatives to water? 


  1. I've never heard of saft or redcurrants before (I'm showing my Americanisms I guess) and I don't have any berries or a garden... I drink a lot of coffee and teas.

    1. Neither had my husband. Do you know grenadine? You use it when you mix tequila sunrises. "Saft" is basically the same thing as that, just made of different fruits or berries.
      I'm a coffeeholic myself, but sometimes I need something that satisfies my thirst and not just my need for caffeine...

  2. I am originally from Latvia and we had them too. We also had black and white kind. We ate it raw and used for jam and pies. Haven't seen this in years because I left Latvia loooooon ago!


    1. We also have the black ones, but I haven't heard about white ones before. We also eat the berries raw and use them for jam and pies. But especially with the blackcurrants I really prefer to use them as "saft".

    2. I googled it and here is what I got. They look pretty much same but white