Hodgkin

This year's currant crop has been poor. This is it.


There were loads last year. The bushes got a bit out of hand so I consulted a large and authoritative gardening tome and pruned them. Wish I hadn't.

To make the most of my meagre currant crop I decided to have a go at something I've been meaning to make ever since I first read about it in Jenny Baker's wonderful book on English food Kettle Broth to Gooseberry Fool  in 1999. Hodgkin is, she says, a Kentish version of  the German rumtopf or the French confiture des vieux garçons (bachelor's jam). In all three a variety of summer fruits are mixed with sugar, covered with spirits and left until Christmas by which time you will have glorious alcoholic fruit to eat with ice cream or in a trifle and a beautiful fruity tipple to keep the cold out.

Jenny Baker's book is the only source I have found for Hodgkin. There are very few references on the internet and those I did find I don't provide any more information about it than she does. I'd love to know if it really is something people make or made in Kent.

Whatever you call it, from wherever is comes the principle is the same. You pick soft  fruits throughout the summer and layer them in a large preserving jar mixing them with half their weight of sugar and covering with brandy in the case of hodgkin and confiture des vieux garçons and rum in the case of rumtopf. Suitable fruits are; currants, cherries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, plums, greengages, apricots, peaches and nectarines. The last three need to be halved or sliced but the others can be left whole. Citrus fruit are to be avoided.

I have begun my hodgkin with my handful of currants and some of the excellent local cherries we have at the moment. I will not add strawberries as I have a feeling they will take on an unpleasant texture after a few months soaking in brandy. Raspberries and apricots will go in my jar though and maybe some blackberries later in the summer. Meanwhile I await the Ocado man who will be bringing me a new bottle of brandy any minute. There wasn't quite enough to cover the cherries.



For more homemade fruit spirits look here and here.



”pinterest” ”instagram” ”email ”follow

Comments

  1. Maybe your pruning will mean you get a bumper crop next year and in the meantime you will have some lovely boozy fruit at Christmastime.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I know what you mean by pruning. I now only remove the odd whole branch or two when needed. Mind you, this year, the leaves are shot with holes and as the raspberries are everywhere, I can't get into see what is causing it. Still got a near useless amount though this year.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I also failed miserably on currant production this year. I didn't prune but after a weeks absence from the allotment, something has eaten the lot! Do you have yours netted Sue?
    Shauna.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No I don't net them Shauna. I hang old cds from the crab apple tree above and they do a great job at scaring the birds. I haven't bothered this year as I could see there weren't going to be any berries.

      Delete
  4. Anonymous2:49 pm BST

    Not a good year for currants in the Midlands. I think you probably got the pruning right. Next year will be better ME

    ReplyDelete
  5. I totally ignored all instructions to prune my Blueberries and I'm so glad I did we are getting loads this year and they just keep on coming.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'll be very interested to know if your Hodgkin works. We tried to make rumtopf about 15 years ago, and it just went all moldy. Hodgkin sounds better anyway, as I prefer vastly prefer brandy to rum.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I always save the fruit when making fruit liquers, our best so far was the year I found some damsons which went into gin...the stoned fruit made a fab deconstructed Black Forest Gateau when served on a thick slice of Yule log with whipped cream at Christmas!

    ReplyDelete
  8. ooh lovely - I always make a rumtopf and both the fruit and the liqueur are so delicious!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Woo hoo - sounds fab! I have just started off a rhubarb/ginger/vodka infusion from my newly acquired River Cottage 'Booze' book. I wish you as much luck as I wish myself! ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Sounds lovely Sue. I haven't got too many blackcurrants this year either. Last year there were absolutely masses; this year maybe only a fifth of last year's harvest. I did a bit of pruning too, but I don't think that is the main cause of it. Perhaps it's not such a good year for berries this year. Plenty of pears on the way though. Do you have lots of quinces?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not many at all CJ, but hopefully enough for some jelly and a bottle or two of quince vodka.

      Delete
  11. I hope your currants come back next year. I've only eaten dried currants and have been surprised to see what they look like fresh. This post was so interesting. I always learn something new here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dried currants are actually grapes just like raisins or sultanas. These are a different kettle of fruit altogether.

      Delete
  12. All round to yours at Christmas then...

    ReplyDelete
  13. Another one for my cookbook wish list, it never ends ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  14. It may have been a small harvest Sue but it's certainly a very pretty one. I love the sound of hodgkin (a new word to me) and it looks like it will be a delicious concoction and quite potent too!

    ReplyDelete
  15. My granny always had a Rumtopf on the go and I was ever so excited when I was first allowed to have some of if at Christmas... No red currants here either, and only a handful of raspberries. Not sure if it's the weather this year rather than the pruning?

    ReplyDelete
  16. Currants are in plentiful supply here at the Sparrowholding this year, which is ironic as they're the one fruit none of us is particularly keen on!! Our local GP came round and picked a host of them last year (I couldn't bear the waste, so put out a Mayday on FB for blackcurrant worshippers to convene here!). He promptly dropped them in a bottle of gin and a bottle of vodka, which turned a wonderful colour and (apparently) were a great success. I'm keen to try your Hodgkin idea with some plums and brandy if Victoria our plum tree obliges this autumn :-)

    ReplyDelete
  17. The texture of the strawberries will change but they should become no more unpleasant than tinned strawberries. I've made strawberry liqueur for a few years running and making a boozy trifle with the leftover fruit after bottling was always very, very fun :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Texture like tinned strawberries, that's what I was afraid of!

      Delete
  18. I'd suggest skipping the blackberries. I often make blackberry vodka and the fruit needs to be strained off after about three months or the blackberry 'cores' impart a not entirely pleasant woody flavour.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll bear that in mind Annie, thank you.

      Delete
  19. Fantastic! I've been meaning to make this too. I think you are the only person I know who has this book. It's one of my favourites. I've always been tempted to have a go at making clotted cream (last recipe in the book) but then, whenever I fear I might actually do it, I mentally slap myself round the face and remind myself that it's absurd to go to the corner shop to buy ingredients for clotted cream (milk and cream) which will no doubt be sitting alongside pots of actual clotted cream. Anyway, I will be watching your Hodgkin with interest. I am sure I'll feel extremely jealous in December when your in the kitchen pics show ice-cream covered with booze-infused summer fruits. Hmm, perhaps I'll just have to clean out a Kilner jar and have a go myself.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment