[NAFEX] Black currant taste

lee reich lreich at hvc.rr.com
Fri Jul 21 14:58:59 EDT 2006

Putting in my two cents about black currant flavor...

First of all, I happen to really enjoy the fresh flavor of black  
currants. I even enjoy Consort, which does bear well for me. I have  
not been impressed by Ben Sarek or Titania except by their large  
berry size. Ben Sarek berries always seem to rot as they ripen here,  
though. My all time favorite varieties for flavor are some of the  
Russian ones: Kirovchanka is outstanding fresh but very low yielding;  
my currant [sic] favorite for excellent flavor and good growth and  
yields is Belaruskaja.

Yes, Ribes odoratum flavor is totally different from the European  
black currants. I really enjoy odoratum flavor too, fresh, when the  
fruit is throughly ripe.

And finally, a book plug. In case anyone does not know, I do devote a  
whole chapter to black currants in my book Uncommon Fruits for Every  

Lee Reich, PhD
Books by Lee Reich:
Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden
A Northeast Gardener's Year
The Pruning Book
Weedless Gardening

On Jul 16, 2006, at 8:31 PM, Richard Moyer wrote:

> Tom,
> 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 again.
> 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 England.
> 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.
> Second...
> Is there a good black currant tea recipe (leaves/stems/berries) out  
> there?
> So how do currant varietiess get rated (flavorwise)?
> Thanks,
> Tom
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