[NAFEX] my currant opinion

Alan Haigh alandhaigh at gmail.com
Sun Aug 17 08:20:05 EDT 2008


I've noticed a lot of posts lately about various ribes and their uses and
members favorites.  In my orchard ribes have been widely tested with
probably about 50 different varieties of gooseberries, red, white, and black
currants and gooseberry and currant crosses.  In the end none of these
plants is terribly important to me if only because they ripen right at the
fever pitch of the growing season and I barely have time to deal with them
before they are shriveling on the bush or have passed through the digestive
tracks of my busy birds.

At some future time when all I have to manage is my 3 acres and I've retired
from the responsibility of tending scores of the home and estate orchards of
other people I will return to only one kind of ribes, that being black
currants.  Gooseberries are pleasant but bland, red currants are beautiful
but also lacking in aromatics and whites aren't even beautiful and no taste
improvement over the reds.  Black currants to my taste buds are so much more
complex and interesting than these others they should be considered an
entirely different category.

I realize that this is a minority opinion on this list but apparently not in
the rest of the currant producing world where black currants are cultivated
much more extensively according to numbers I came up with while searching
the web.  I think this says a lot for the culinary potential of the blacks.

I have found that even the least pleasing blacks off the plant, such as
Crusader with it's intense cat piss aroma and relatively low sugar- high
acid balance, are extremely useful in the kitchen for sauces, juice blends
and preserves.  For a quick example run a cup of blacks through a blender
with a quart of fresh pressed apple "cider", strain coarsely and drink and
let me know what you think.  Compare that to the same recipe using any
gooseberry and you may side with me.

The strong taste of blacks may require cooking and/or a lot of sugar to
balance out but when used to their advantage they are much more interesting
and delicious to my palate than those other ribes most of the world puts on
the B-list.  They are also more nutritious and I suspect much higher in
anti-oxidants.
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