Every Swedish garden seems to have a few redcurrant bushes. I am not sure why redcurrant bushes are so popular in Sweden other than the fact that seem to grow very well. They thrive in the cool climate and will grow into really big bushes (as much as 5 m across). They can be found growing in the wild, especially in the north of Sweden, and even grow on rocky ground provided they are in full sun.
Naturally, Swedes have made good use of the their redcurrants. In the days before freezers they were made into saft (cordial/syrup) and bottled to provide a much needed source of vitamin C during the long hard winters. (They have 4 times as much vitamin C as an orange per gram.) They are also rich in various minerals including magnesium, which is good for the health of bones.
Use of redcurrants today
The days of massive pickling and preserving are over, but Swedes still like their redcurrants. They are used as a garnish, made into jelly, sorbets, smoothies and many still make saft. There is something really comforting about drinking something that you have made from redcurrants grown in your own garden and knowing that the drink is free of any additives.
Many people have never tasted redcurrants as they are not widely stocked by supermarkets and nor are they are featured much at pick-your-own farms. In fact, redcurrants are quite tart and so need sugar adding when they are cooked.
Growing your own
Redcurrants bushes are usually grown as goblet-shaped bushes and normally have a height and spread of 1.5m (5') and so are only suitable for big gardens or allotments. They also best grown in a fruit cage otherwise they need covering with netting as birds find the small and succulent fruit irresistible.
Redcurrants prefer a sheltered spot in sun or semi-shade. They are not fussy about the soil, provided it is reasonably well drained.
They are closely related to blackcurrants but surprisingly they need to be cared for like gooseberries, not blackcurrants, and need new growth cutting back by a half in the winter.
Red Lake is the most popular all-rounder producing long trusses which are easy to pick. The flavour is good and they have a high juice content. It is best to buy 2 year old bushes from a good garden centre or a reputable online supplier.
Hemgjord rödvinbärsgelé (homemade redcurrant jelly) is a popular accompaniment to game, lamb, grilled chicken or stew and for serving with cheese and biscuits. It is also a very useful addition to many sauces (see our recipe for venison with blackberries, for instance) giving them extra depth of flavour. Most commercial redcurrant jellies are too sweet and lacking in flavour whereas this recipe produces a well-flavoured jelly with a gorgeous redcurrant colour and yet it is quick and easy to make! More…
Rårörda röda vinbär is hard to translate. Sometimes it is translated as redcurrant jam, but it is not cooked like an ordinary jam. It is really made of four words: rå (raw) rörda (moved) röda (red) and vinbär (currants).(Sometimes röda is omitted or combined with vinbär as rödvinbär.) My preferred translation is stirred redcurrants because essentially that is all you do: add sugar and stir. Rårorda vinbär goes well with:
• fried fish,
• in place of redcurrant jelly with meat dishes,
• waffles, served with whipped cream,
• as a filling for a layer cake,
• as a topping for a lemon or custard tart,
• a filling for a pancake torte,
• other fruit, going particularly well with melon.
Chicken salad with stirred redcurrants
Our recipe for rödvinbärssorbet has some orange liqueur added to give it more flavour, but also to prevent it freezing too hard. The recipe is really easy as no cooking is involved. It can be served as a normal dessert or, as above, in pre-chilled shot glasses as part of a party buffet. It makes a refreshing and attractive dessert that is well worth keeping in your freezer. More…
Fruit cordials (syrups) are especially popular in Sweden and, although they are easy to buy in supermarkets, there is nothing quite like a homemade cordial. It is easy to make and will keep for a week or longer in your fridge. Alternatively, you can freeze it in small tubs or in ice-cube trays and pop out 2 or 3 to defrost in the microwave when you fancy a drink. More…
A redcurrant smoothie is a superb way of starting the day and only takes a couple of minutes to make. Children love them! More…
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