How to make 100 % natural redcurrant cordial – and a few words on aspartame.
In the backyard right across the street there are two shrubs with ripe and wonderful redcurrants. Some of the berries are trying to climb the fence. I think of it as an invitation to pay a visit to the berries.
A few years ago it was discovered that aspartame was very efficient as ant poison. In Sweden a blogger tried a similar experiment where he poured Fun Light, one of the most common cordials sold in Norway, on an ant colony resulting in the colony dying. Aspartame is one of the most common artificial sweeteners, 150–200 times sweeter than sugar. Because it is so sweet a small amount will do to sweeten beverages, and small amounts are not dangerous, or? According to EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) it is safe to consume 4 litres a day for an adult weighing 60 kilos. However, there are some dissenting voices.
In a study based on rats the Italian cancer researcher Morando Soffritti, who leads a non-profit organization, found that even small amounts of aspartame caused cancer. In another study from Iceland where almost 60 000 pregnant women participated aspartame was linked to preterm birth. Thorhallur Halldorsson from the University of Iceland who conducted the study says researchers mostly disagree about the long-term effects of aspartame, and he urges children and pregnant women to avoid aspartame.
Both studies have been refuted by the EFSA, but still if they are wrong we do know little about the chemical cocktail effect – the combined effect. Most of us do not consume 4 litres beverages with aspartame, but the artificial sweetener is also used in products such as yoghurt, chewing gum, sweets, desserts, medicine and more.
Aspartame is cheap to produce and has almost no calories. This is of course exactly the point made by the companies producing these types of light beverages, or to quote Stabburet, which produces Fun Light beverage: ”FUN Light is a beverage completely without sugar, and with only one calorie pr. millilitre – or carefree enjoyment as we call it!»
«Taste of rasperries»
Looking at the text label on industrial products takes you into a world of code language. All additives in the EU are given a code, hence aspartame is E951. Looking at the label for Fun light, the word raspberries is not mentioned although this is raspberry cordial. Neither the taste, the scent nor the red colour derive from raspberries, but from artificial components. This is why it is labeled ”a taste of raspberries” instead of raspberry cordial.
100 % natural redcurrant cordial
In a world where beverages for children also function as insecticide, I find it best to make the cordial myself. The text label for your own cordial is short: Ingredients: 70 % redcurrants from the neighbouring backyard and 30 % sugar. And then I haven’t mentioned the immaterial ingredients: The joy of making something to your family. Making your own cordial that will last the whole autumn. Giving it as a gift to someone. Transferring your joy of cooking to the next generation the same way you are walking in your grandmother’s shoes.
And if you think it is old-fashioned to walk in you granny’s shoes, transform the cordial and redcurrants into a vibrating cocktail with a Nordic twist, such as a Cosmopolitan (just substitute the cranberry juice with cordial) or daiquiri (substitute the strawberries with a little handful of frozen currants and increase the amount of sugar). Redcurrants are also useful if you make blackcurrant cordial.
Redcurrant cordial (makes about 750 ml cordial):
1 kilo redcurrants
400 ml / 13 oz water
about 225 g / 8 oz sugar
1. First, rinse the currants in water and drain well.
2. Sterilize your jars by first washing them with soap, then leaving them in the oven at 100C/212F for 15 minutes. Take them out of the oven right before you are ready to fill the jars.
3. Put the currants in a large pan with the water. Put the pan over low heat, then gently bring to a simmer. This may take some time, even an hour. Do not stir. When it boils, turn off the heat and leave to infuse with the lid on. They are finished when the currants have changed colour (greyish red).
4. Strain the currants through a muslin without pushing the berries. This will take about 10 minutes. If you squeeze with you hands, the cordial will turn cloudy.
5. Measure the amount of liquid to find out how much sugar you need. You should add at least 1/3 part sugar to 1 liter berry liquid. This will make a sweet-sour cordial.
6. Return the liquid to the pan, this time with the sugar. Boil briefly, until the sugar is dissolved, about a minute.
7. Skim off the foam and pour the cordial on sterilized jars.
I always squeeze the muslin with my hands to get the last remains of the juice, and then bring to boil with some sugar. This cloudy cordial I then keep in a little jar in a fridge to consume first.