The Great Blackcurrant Hijack

When did you last see blackcurrants in a supermarket or greengrocer’s? That most English of fruits ought to be plentiful during the summer when they’re in season but they’re hardly ever available.

I love blackcurrants – in a crumble, on cheesecake – and the perfect cream tea has blackcurrant jam with the scones and clotted cream (strawberry is too sweet).

I was lucky this year. I managed to buy a couple of small punnets on two separate occasions (Thank you, M&S). The first time I made a summer pudding (it just isn’t right without the blackcurrants) and the second time they went into a deliciously sharp but creamy ice cream (there’s still half a tub in the freezer which I’m endeavouring to keep for a while but I don’t suppose my will power will hold out much longer).

And do you know why they are so scarce? A well-known manufacturer of soft drinks beginning with “R” accounts for 90% of the entire British crop. That’s right, 90 percent!

It’s an appalling statistic. Given that a lot of the remaining 10% is going to be snapped up by commercial jam makers and the like, that doesn’t leave a lot for domestic consumption. And, to add insult to injury, the aforementioned company extracts the juice and then adds so much sodding sugar it completely destroys the tartness which gives blackcurrants their essential character – not to mention rotting children’s teeth.

That’s an unfair monopoly. I think I’m going to start a petition.

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