[NAFEX] My view of black currants (long)
Ribes60 at aol.com
Ribes60 at aol.com
Tue Mar 2 20:54:18 EST 2004
I would like to present another version of “Black currants, a forgotten fruit”
I have known Lee Reich for a long time, he has visited me at my planting, we
have corresponded and we have attended several conferences at the same time.
Lee is a Free Lance writer and has written several books and many articles. I
believe that he derives much of his livelihood by writing and speaking about
fruit, of many kinds and types. I therefore do not wish to question his
knowledge, but I feel that his style of writing is slanted to “what the public and the
publishers like and want.
I would not open and article nor would I even include the comments of a
herbalist such as John Gerard – I think that time has proven that it was just his
personal opinion which has not stood the test of time. In spite of his
declaration that black currants are stinking and loathsome, there are approximately
800,000 metric tons grown each year and I expect that most of them are actually
consumed. About 90% are made into juice which is very good, very nutritious
(even being recommended for infants) and is sold all over Europe. The juices are
not readily available in the US, but that is our loss. The people that I know
that make juice from black currants either have no trouble selling it or
hoard it for their own use.
I agree that black currant can be made in excellent jam, the pies are the
best there are and the flavor of black currant is strong and can be mixed with
many other fruits (and in my humble opinion, improves most of them) Licorice
flavoring is for kids, black currant flavor is used in many foods, drinks and
desserts. The color is a very rich color and is even used to help color marketed
juice of wild blueberries (in Maine – a state that restricts growing of all
As Lee alluded, Cassis a liqueur made from black currants, but you do not
have to be French to enjoy it. Black currant wine is excellent and may make you
give up grapes (sorry Lon, that’s just how good it is)
I did an article some years ago indicating that black currant is the most
nutritious fruit available. That was before the nutraceutical value was generally
known. Now it is recognized as therapeutic as well as just plain good.
The black currants that were developed in Canada that are completely immune
to White Pine Blister Rust are just that, they are little better than no black
currant at all. There are now a number of black currants that are immune to
WPBR and more that are highly resistant to it. Most of these are from Russia or
have Russian parentage. Titania, a cultivar developed in Sweden is an
excellent example of this. The WPBR does not infect black currant, it resides on the
leaf and rarely causes a great deal of trouble except in the Pacific NW, both
Canada and the US where it may defoliate most of the susceptible plants. Many
black currant varieties are susceptible to mildew which may cause more trouble
to currants than WPBR.
I grow strawberries because they are so easy to sell, I grow black currants
because I really like them more than other fruit. I often pick handfuls as I
cut the grass between the rows, I eat many before they are completely ripe, and
am very sorry to see the last of them in late July.
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