Blackcurrant leaf juice

Following through with my promise to Chris & René, here’s one addition to my magnificient roster of food DIY.

No, I’m still not planning to turn this blog into a food one, but this blackcurrant leaf juice is one of my favorites which I’ve made almost every summer for many many years.. About time to have it featured I’d say :)

What I conceptually like about this juice the most is that it makes use of parts other than the berries. It’s also very simple to make, just about much work as making a (very large) cup of tea.

The hero of our show. Photo by Saxo.

Background and required items

I have no clue about the actual origins of the recipe, but I’m guessing it could at least date back to somewhere around 20th century war-era (rural) Finland. Like perhaps scarcity forcing people to get creative with resources and all that..

What I know is that the recipe is a very close relative of “Louhisaaren juoma” (the “Louhisaari drink”, previous link only in finnish), a mead that was made at Louhisaari manor where finnish WW1 / WW2 military leader and statesman C.G.E. Mannerheim was born. The difference between the two recipes is, we’ll be excluding yeast, use slightly less water and replace lemons with citric acid powder. That said, here’s what’s needed:

  • 5 liters of blackcurrant leaves
  • 5 liters of water
  • 500-1000 grams of sugar
  • 25-50 grams of citric acid
  • 10 liter bucket
  • something for boiling the water (stove & +5 liter pan or water cooker)
  • funnel
  • a sifter which fits inside the pan / bucket / funnel
  • 5 liters worth of empty, clean plastic bottles

If you’re wondering about sugar and citric acid listed as they are, it has to do with your preference of taste and intended use, and I’ll explain these a bit later. No idea about the rest of the world, but in Finland citric acid powder is available at least through drug stores.

Preparation step 1

When collecting the leaves, make some pre-selection while at it. If they have plant parasites or diseases, you obviously should’nt be using any. I haven’t tested how much the timing of collection might affect taste (mid vs. late summer), but either way you want to go for green, healthy looking leaves. Insect bite marks don’t matter, as long as the insects aren’t there. Once you have the required amount, rinse the leaves well.

Next, the leaves will be simply left to infuse in boiled water. Either place the rinsed leaves on the bottom of the bucket and pour boiled water over them or, if using a large pan, bring the water to boil, switch off the heat and add leaves. I went with the latter:

Water boiled, leaves added.

Water boiled, leaves added.

Cover up the bucket (or pan) and leave the mix to infuse for at least two hours. I usually give it a overnight treatment. Once done, the water picks up a yellow color and leaves turn darker green in color, if even a bit brown.

Infusion done, note the color of leaves.

Infusion done, note & compare the color of leaves to preceding picture.

Preparation step 2

On the following morning, scoop away the leaves using a sifter. No need to worry about any smaller bits left behind, as we’ll sift the juice once more when bottling it up.

Scoop away the leaves

Using a sifter, scoop away the leaves.

Now then, about the amounts of citric acid and sugar.

As this recipe produces a concentrate of sorts, we generally want to go towards the larger amounts of listed values knowing that the juice will get thinned down with water later on (vodka is yummy too). If you’d however like to make a more ready-to-drink mix, smaller amounts are just as fine and ultimately about your preference of taste.

Citric acid adds sourness whereas sugar (of course) adds sweetness. If you prefer to adjust the taste to your liking (or intended use), then add smaller amounts at a time, tasting the mix in-between. For example, start by adding 15 grams of citric acid, check sourness and add more if needed. When sourness is to your preference, proceed to adding sugar.

Add citric acid

Adding citric acid..

Add sugar.

..and then, the sugar.

Just for the record, I used 50 grams of citric acid and 800 grams of sugar for the batch featured on this post.

Come to think of it, adjusting the mix goes for water too: If you know you’ll be consuming the juice in a matter of week or two, you could just as well mix in, say, another 5 liters of water while making the juice and then bottle up a ready-to-drink mix to be refrigerated. However if planning to freeze the juice for later use (like I’m about to do), why increase the liquid volume to-be-frozen as water can just as well be added when the concentrate is thawed..

Shhh, my common sense is tingling.

Bottle up sifting for any smaller particles.

Bottle up and sift for smaller particles. It’s like multitasking lol.

All good to be refrigerated or frozen.

All good to be refrigerated or frozen.

And that’s it, now enjoy your batch of awesome blackcurrant leaf juice! Did I mention it makes a yummy companion for vodka? :)

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4 responses to “Blackcurrant leaf juice”

  1. Arto says :

    There’s also a variation of this recipe for birch leaves here (finnish only). Perhaps need to test it :)

  2. 1in10 says :

    better to use glass bottles(propably better to warm em first)..you know..the toxins(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bisphenol_A) in plastic bottles..anyway..could give that high c you have always wanted=P

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