[NAFEX] Black currants

Ribes60 at aol.com Ribes60 at aol.com
Mon Jul 17 21:35:48 EDT 2006

I have read the several posts regarding black currants and other Ribes  and 
feel I should add my two cents worth. At one time I probably had the largest  
collection of Ribes outside of the Corvallis collection in the states. I have  
more than 200 cultivars and did a lot of testing regarding how they grow and  
what are the best ones for the local  (PA) area. Later Harry Swartz did a fair 
bit of breeding from many of the  plants that I had growing. We selected 
about 15 black currants and a few  gooseberries to keep working with. I also 
brought in a number of Ribes from  Europe and have kept some going here and some 
were used in the breeding program.  I say this because there are many 
differences in the wide number of plants and  the more that you taste, the better you 
can detect and decide which are the most  acceptable (to you). 
I agree with several of the posters, there are subtle differences and  some 
not so subtle differences in black currants. Richard is very correct in  saying 
that Western Europe tends to produce currants that taste very much alike  
because they are producing for a specific product and do not want it to  change.  
Eastern Europe produces  more varied products and so the berries are also 
more varied. 
There is more difference in taste of the berries between under-ripe and  
fully ripe than between most selections.  Someone mentioned Coronet, Crusader and 
Consort, they were developed  specifically to resist White Pine Blister Rust, 
and they do, but they sure did  not develop an acceptable taste and generally 
the yields are poor. 
There are some Russian selections that are very palatable, right off the  
bush but most others require a bit of acquiring a taste for them. I have and  
really like to pick and eat them as they ripen. They all taste better if cooked  
for a short while and if a bit of sugar is added. There are many that are very 
 good raw as-is if they are fully ripe. 
Products made from them are outstanding, juice, wine and jam are as good  as 
any fruit. 
As has been stated, there is much more difference in the taste of  
gooseberries. There is not as much difference in red currants. 
Try them, they are very good, easy to grow and harvest and ripen at a  time 
that there are not a great deal of other small fruit. 

Ed  Mashburn
Central PA
Zone 5A
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