Visiting friends and relatives in other countries is always a special time, and even more precious when they open their homes to host, or change their schedules to spend more time together. Back in the day (at the end of last Millennium, indeed), it was relatively easy to find gifts and souvenirs in Canada to give loved ones in Mexico as a thank you for their attentions and hospitality; goods such as fine toiletries or candy bars from many American and Canadian companies were not available in Mexico, and always welcome. Since international trade started to boom, globalization has seemed unstoppable, slowly eradicating borders, and now it is hard to find brands and items in Canada that would be special in Mexico; its large malls and airports even carry a few European and American brands that we do not have in Canada! Even further, imagine my surprise when my sister took me to Costco™ in Culiacán (capital city of the Mexican state of Sinaloa), and we saw these T-shirts on one of the bargain tables:
I commented that I seldom see clothes made in the country back in Canada, let alone a T-shirt at a chain retailer! Of course, we proceeded to buy a couple, and I brought mine back to Canada, as a souvenir from Mexico (LOL).
My point is that now I have to be much more creative with the gifts I take down to Mexico. The good news is that there are still some items that work well, such as First Nations handcrafts, and another kind that has had great reception is preserves with ingredients that may not be available there, such as authentic pure maple syrup, and even more unique, my homemade black currant jam (click here for recipe) from homegrown fruit.
The last couple of years, I have enjoyed bumper crops from my one and only black currant bush:
Freezing some of the berries allows me to delay cooking the jam until the end of the hot season (also explained in my post on jam), but the extra fruit inspired me to look for other recipes, quicker to make – hence, using less heat – like the one for black currant cordial that I shared last summer (click here for story and recipe.) Compote is another one that works great with black currants. A compote (compota, in Spanish) is by definition “a dessert of fruit cooked in syrup” and it is as simple to make as it sounds; furthermore, making a small batch is not a burden even in the hot summer season, because cooking times are short as for cordial and – unlike with jam – there are no worries with compote about acidity, pectin levels or gelling, since it is supposed to be somewhat runny, like a sauce.
Black Currant Compote –
Compota de Grosella Negra
Ingredients (for approximately 5 cups)
5 cups black currants, washed (preferably fresh)
1 cup water
2 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
Mix all ingredients in a large pot over high heat, stirring constantly to melt the sugar (photo below, left). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring carefully to avoid overflowing or spattering (photo below, right):
Continue for ten minutes, at which point the berries are soft and the syrup has turned dark and shiny; press a few berries against the side of the pan with the back of a wooden spoon (photo below) and cook for about two more minutes:
Transfer the hot mix to clean Mason jars with lids, and let cool undisturbed. If the compote will be consumed within a couple of weeks, the unopened jars may be kept in the cupboard. After opening, or if they will not be consumed soon, store in the refrigerator. If the compote will be stored for several months or given away as gifts, then it must be transferred to sterilized Mason jars with new lids and processed in a bath of boiling water for 10 minutes (click here for detailed instructions).
This compote has the perfect balance of sweetness and tartness, and a great consistency:
I like adding one cup of this compote to 2 cups of fresh mixed berries and one cup of granulated sugar, and use that as a filling for a classic summer berry pie, using a double batch of my basic pie crust (click here for recipe) for the base and the cover:
It is also great as a topping for ice cream, pancakes, or pound cake, but my favourite is in a bowl with plain yogurt and cereal:
I am going to Mexico this fall to attend one of my niece’s wedding, and I am sure a few jars of black currant compote will delight my relatives; it is unique enough that I even give some to my dearest friends in Canada. I am also certain that this treat is 100% made in Canada, and not available in Mexico, at Costco™, or anywhere else in the whole Universe!
I am bringing my recipe to Thursday Favourite Things #399 with Bev @ Eclectic Red Barn, Marilyn @ Marilyn’s Treats, Katherine @ Katherine’s Corner, Nina @ Vintage Mama’s Cottage, Amber @ Follow the Yellow Brick Home, Theresa @ Shoestring Elegance, Pam @ An Artful Mom and Linda @ Crafts a la Mode.