English Name: Black Currant
Botanical Name: Ribes nigrum
DESCRIPTION: A small blackberry that glows in bunches on a garden bush and can be eaten.
ORIGIN: The recorded history of Black Currants appeared to date only in the 1600s. Black Currants have been grown in northern Europe as a fruit crop for 400—500 years, but were not excessively popular until World War II in Great Britain. At that time fruits high in vitamins C, like oranges, became very difficult to find. The popularity of Black Currant flavouring in Britain continues to this day.
In North America, in the United States, the story of Black Currants took a completely different direction. In the early 1900s, it was believed that Black Currants encouraged the development of ‘white pine blister rust’— a plant disease that threatened the booming logging industry. As a result, the US government banned Black Currants which continued nationwide until 1966. Till date, some individual states still maintain the ban. But a farmer, Greg Quinn was able to overturn the law in New York by demonstrating that new resistant varieties eliminated the specter of the disease.
In the 20s Greece began to export small dried grapes, raisins, from the Ionian Islands. The Greek writing on the first shipment for the word “Corinth” was mistakenly translated at the pier into “currant” . Since the real currants had been banned for many years at that time few Americans knew that the name stuck and we now have 80+ years cookbooks telling us to put half a cup of “currants” in our scones and soda bread when what they more specifically from the third largest Ionian Island call the “Zante Currants”. The largest currant farm “CropPharms” is located in New York founded by the farmer Greg Quinn.
NATURAL BENEFITS: Black Currant juice was used to treat bladder stones, liver disorders, coughs, and lung ailments. It contains 3—4 times the amount of vitamin C found in orange.
USES: Black Currants are used to make wines, Fruit juice, Jelly and alcoholic drinks e.g Cassis
Recipes for Black Currant include:
• Black Currant Jelly
• Black Currant Wine
• Black Currant Cheese cake