[NAFEX] Black currant taste

Richard Moyer ramoyer at gmail.com
Sun Jul 16 20:31:14 EDT 2006

The USDA-ARS has their currant collection at the NCGR facility in Corvallis,
OR.  There are dozens and dozens of black currant cultivars there.  I had
the privilege of tasting each one of these over multiple weeks in 2000, and
many of them again one week last summer.
Hence I can vouch that there's much more flavor variety in black currants
than is commonly available from catalogs.  If you can't make it to Corvallis
in mid-June through July, consider visiting Ed Mashburn in central PA, for a
sense of what's possible.

Have you ever compared Consort, Coronet or Crusader to your Titania or Ben
Lomond?  The first three are markedly different than the latter two, and to
a person agreed by breeders and major growers I've asked as markedly
inferior in taste.
Also, have you tried the American currant "Crandall"?  It's a different
species than the above and ripens much later, and is different in flavor yet

My (dated) impression is that western European breeding for currants is
market driven by some major processors, such as for the drink Ribena.  Hence
those selections that are markedly different in flavor may not be selected
and released as much current breeding is privately financed with specific
goals in mind.

But there is a lot of variety in the eastern European material, and in the
traditional western European cultivars, such as the older cultivars from

Finally, Harry Swarz (sp?) from U. of Maryland has been doing some black
currant breeding and selecting for berries that are more acceptable for
fresh eating.  The one I have differs quite a bit from Titania.

As for descriptors of taste, black currants are extremely high in
total phenolics, much higher than raspberries, blackberries, blueberries or
gooseberries.  Much of the depth of aromas and flavors in the fruit, fruit
products and teas from the leaves are from these phenolics (a major class of
plant chemicals).
Major notes for me are citrus and conifer.  Food chemists have characterized
these fully, but I do not have that work in easy reach.

Richard Moyer
East Tenn
'Crandall' currants in season now.

Tom wrote:
Some may disagree, but I find the scent of black currants invigorating and
healthy.  Just started picking my Ben Lomond.
I have a question... (or two)
How is the taste of a black currant variety rated?
I find the Titania is a bit sweeter, but lacks some of the spicyness of the
Ben Lomond.  Some spicyness of Ben Lomond comes through as an aftertaste.  I
would rate the Ben Lomond the better berry, but only by a titch.
It is not like comparing apples where taste can be so diverse.
Is there a good black currant tea recipe (leaves/stems/berries) out there?
So how do currant varietiess get rated (flavorwise)?
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