Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Blackcurrant and Squash

A common fruit used for flavouring over here (that I can't recall seeing at home) is blackcurrant. You see it in drinks and in candy. Where in Canada we'd have a purpley-red coloured candy that would be called "grape" flavour in the mix with strawberry, orange, lemon/lime, etc., in the UK you wouldn't have a grape candy but a "blackcurrant" one (and it'd be called a "sweet" instead of a candy).

The taste of blackcurrant is something like cranberry without the tang, but more full tasting, like a bit of grape juice was thrown in as well. It's a sweet, reddish-berry tasting flavour, but it's a distinct flavour of it's own, so hard to compare.

The drink Ribena is blackcurrant flavoured and readily available, sold in tetra packs and plastic bottles in fridges at convenience stores ("newsagents"). My first encounter with blackcurrant was through drinks, as a "squash" flavour. To make sugary, fruit-flavoured drinks over here, you buy a concentrated liquid, known as "squash" or "cordial" and then mix one part of the concentrate with four to five parts of water and the resulting drink is also called squash or cordial. The resultant drinks are much like what we get in Canada from using powdered drink crystals to produce things like Kool-Aid.

Squash as a drink on its own is popular with young kids, but bars also use squash/cordial concentrate to add to alchoholic drinks. For example, "lager and lime" is popular with some, that is lager beer with a dash of lime cordial on the top to cut down on the bitterness of the beer. Some people drink Guiness with a dash of blackcurrant, also to cut down on the bitterness. The three standards of squash/cordial - orange, blackcurrant, and lime - also get used to add flavour to mixed alcoholic drinks.


Anonymous said...

Hi Megan,

Greetings from Acadia!

I have had Ribena in Nova Scotia for sometime. It is found in the specialty section in the Super Store.

I have just found your blog so will read back to see what you have been up to since leaving Acadia.

Warm Regards,

Anonymous said...

Hi, I just came across your blog when I was browsing blogger. It is strange to read your comments about Ribena, as I had assumed it was common in countries outside the UK.

I just thought I'd add that the term "squash" is more of an English word for the drink. Here in Scotland, I think most people would call it "diluting juice" (as the concentrate is diluted with water!)

Ribena is also very nice when made with hot water and really warms you up if you've been out in the cold.

Another thing to mention about Ribena is that it received quite a bit of bad press a few years ago, as it is quite sugary and a lot of mothers were giving it to toddlers who then developed severe tooth decay.

Anyway, I have been enjoying your blog. Keep posting!


Megan said...

Hi Lisa! Good to hear from you! I'll drop you an e-mail sometime soon. I hope everything's well in Wolfville.

Megan said...

Hi P, thanks for the comment! I haven't actually heard squash called "diluting juice" while I've been here, but I suppose it depends on who I'm talking to. I have found it weird to hear Scottish folk calling things like Coke and Irn Bru "juice", as they're very far from what I consider juice to be (containing some traces of fruit).

I can imagine there being some worry about Ribena - it's so sugary-sweet I usually can't drink it without some dilution, else my teeth hurt.