Cold, sweet, sparkling, and fizzy; Red Currant Refresher starts with a currant infused simple syrup and is stirred into lemon lime pop with lots of ice. Summer never tasted so good!
If you’ve been a reader of Lord Byron’s Kitchen for any length of time now, you will know that we have red currant bushes in our backyard. We bought the house and had no idea we were to be blessed with currant bushes. It was late spring, so nothing had been growing yet.
Last year was our first summer harvesting the berries. Although I was quite happy with the amount I was able to pick, I wasn’t prepared for this year.
THE STORY OF THE CURRANT BUSH
We purchased the house from an elderly lady. Her husband had passed away the previous year and the house had become too much for her to handle on her own. We met her twice. She came across as super fit and active, but I’m sure a house in the country can be lonely for one person.
The keys were placed in our hands the second week of June. We still live in Toronto, but would make the drive every weekend and work on the house. Last year, we stayed in Toronto the first weekend of July, so there was a two week period that we were not at the house. Once we did go back, the red currant bushes were loaded with bright red berries. Or so I thought!
I have learned that if berry or fruit trees are left unattended, they tend to produce less product. Last year, I picked the currants and I truly believe that it had been the first time in a few years anyone had bothered to harvest them. So, this year, the currants were bountiful. We have already harvested twice, and just yesterday, I noticed that the bushes are red again with more ripened berries.
The same can be applied to an apple tree in the backyard. At the end of last summer, we picked them all. This year the tree is laden with them. And they look so much more healthier than last year’s harvest. Needless to say we are very happy with our little corner of heaven.
I should mention that this summer, we discovered a new fruit tree that we missed last year. I know for certain that there were no fruit on it last year. But, John.e has been doing some clearing to that particular part of the yard and I think the tree can finally breathe. Being new to this whole thing, I’m not sure if it’s a different variety of apples or if it’s quince. Time will tell!
RED CURRANT RECIPES
With so many red currants, I’ve been thinking about what to do with them all. The obvious answer is jam, there’s only so much jam one can make and store. Currently, our pantry has a good supply of homemade jams, including: blueberry, cherry, apricot, strawberry, and rhubarb. And just two days ago, I added seven jars of homemade marmalade!
Last year, I made Red Currant Yogurt Muffins, a Red Currant Cake, some Red Currant Crumb Bars, and of course Red Currant Jam. I wanted to make some different recipes this year so that I could increase my collection of currant recipes. This Red Currant Refresher is one of them.
This week, I posted a Red Currant Lemon Loaf, which is not only beautiful, but very delicious. I also experimented with making sauces and you’re going to love what I’ve come up with! Rather than just make jam with the rest, I froze a lot of berries. Now, how will I use up the berries still on the bushes? I have to harvest them. My mom used to always say “waste not, want not,” so I simply cannot let them fall to the ground and go to waste!
STARBUCKS AND REFRESHERS
To be honest, I’ve never heard of a refresher until Starbucks started to sell them every summer. I looked up the ingredients in a Starbucks Refresher online. They prepare the drink with water, sugar, juice concentrate, natural flavours, and citric acid. Nothing complicated in that!
As much as I love Starbucks, I knew I could make a refresher at home at a fraction of the cost. I’m not bad-mouthing Starbucks. Trust me, I go there whenever I can! But, the closest Starbucks to our home in the country is about a 30 minute drive. I’d rather make the refresher myself!
HOW IT ALL COMES TOGETHER:
It’s rather simple. The red currants are cooked down with a little bit of water and sugar. You really want to extract all of that currant flavour and juice, so get in there and mash everything up while it’s simmering. I use a wooden spoon to push the currants against the side of the pan. You can always use a potato masher too.
Once that’s done, you have to let it cool. And once cooled, you need to get rid of the seeds and the pulp. You can do that by straining the concentrated juice through cheese cloth. Or, you can push the juice out through a fine mesh sieve over a bowl. I prefer the cheese cloth method, because I tend to get more of the juice out by squeezing it over a bowl.
The only thing left to do is to add some of the concentrated syrup to a glass. Add some ice and top up the glass with your favourite lemon lime pop. I used Diet Sprite. There you have it! Another summer drink to help get you through these very hot days. Enjoy!
Red Currant Refresher
- 2 cups red currants, washed and cleaned
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 6 cups Diet Sprite
- Add the red currants, water, and sugar to a sauce pan. Stir together and over medium heat, bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, stir, and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring every 4-5 minutes.
- Turn off the heat.
- Press the berries to extract all of the juice. Use a potato masher and mash the mixture right in the sauce pan, or use a wooden spoon to press the currants against the side of the pan.
- All the mixture to fully cool.
- Once cooled, remove the seeds and the pulp. You can do that by straining the concentrated juice through cheese cloth. Or, you can push the juice out through a fine mesh sieve over a bowl. Be sure to extract as much juice as possible!
- Add 2-3 tablespoons of the red currant syrup to a drinking glass. (You can add more if you want a stronger, sweeter flavour.)
- Add ice. Add 1 cup of Diet Sprite.
- Serve immediately.