Homemade Blackcurrant Cordial – Vitamin Enriched Hydration

Try a refreshing homemade blackcurrant cordial, for vitamin and mineral enriched hydration. A glass before and after exercise will help maintain water levels, boost antioxidants and provide the electrolyte potassium. In addition, whilst excessive sugar consumption is to be avoided,  exercised muscles will be grateful for the small amount of sugar found in a serving of cordial, burning it rather than storing it.

Cordials are a traditional method of preserving precious nutrients in times of glut in order to make them available in times of scarcity. Did you know that during the 2nd World War the British Government acquisitioned the nation’s blackcurrant crop in order to manufacture blackcurrant cordial? If you are wondering how a humble cordial came to hold such importance, it is because during the war vitamin C sources became scarce and  the government dispensed blackcurrant cordial free to British children to prevent deficiency.

Blackcurrants are  rich in the minerals potassium, iron and manganese, as well as powerful phytonutrients and antioxidants. In fact, so bursting full of nutrients are these tiny little berries that one study has claimed them to be the number one superfruit – both cheaper and more nutritious than other fashionable ‘super foods’ such as goji, acai and blueberries.

Make Your Own Blackcurrant Cordial

500g blackcurrants
275g sugar
250ml water
Juice of 1 lemon

1 In a heavy-based pan, simmer the sugar, blackcurrants and water gently for 5 minutes.

2 Using a potato masher, break up the fruit to release as much juice as possible.

3 Add the lemon juice and simmer for another 2 minutes.

4 Strain the mix through muslin and pour the extracted liquid into a sterilised bottle and keep in the fridge for upto 2 weeks

A Note About Preservation

This cordial relies upon both sugar and citric acid (in the lemon) to preserve it. The sugar is not just for taste and if kept refrigerated and used within a few days of opening the cordial should keep well. Nonetheless, if in any doubt err on the side of more sterilisation. If mould is detected, than discard the cordial – do not attempt to resterilise as the toxic chemical damage has already occurred.

To produce a cordial suitable for keeping in the store cupboard in the manner of shop bought cordial, then it is necessary to heat sterilise the cordial after it has been placed in the bottles (a similar process to the canning process). If sterilised in this manner a cordial should last for several months if unopened and stored in a cool place. In all cases the bottles should be sterilised before use, regardless.

To Heat Sterilise Cordial After Bottling

Pour cordial into hot, sterilised bottles up to about an inch below the top. Seal loosely. Put the bottles in a water bath, standing them on teatowels to prevent the bottles banging around. The water should come at least to the level of the cordial, but preferably to cover the bottles. Bring the water slowly up to 88˚C and keep it there for 20 minutes.

Ladle out sufficient water to enable you to remove the bottles. Tighten the caps and lay the bottles on their side until they are completely cool.