Black Currants

As I munched a couple of fresh black currants, I could not imagine them shrinking down to the sweet little dried currants I buy from the bulk bins at the co-op. Turns out dried currants are really tiny grapes originally from the region of Corinth, Greece. Maybe you knew that, but I didn’t! Now that I’m no longer confused, I can appreciate fresh black currants on their own merits! The big shiny berries are juicy and aromatic with tiny seeds. Sweet is not an adjective I would use for the ones I have tasted, but aromatic, spicy, and juicy are.

A good reason to include black currants in the landscape or food forest would be for their nutritional value. They have more phosphorus and potassium than any fruit; more iron and protein than any fruit save elderberry; and are highest in ascorbic acid (Vit C).

Where currants really shine are in preserves and beverages. Consider canning the fruit with cherries to make a preserve. It could be an interesting treat during the winter holidays served on crackers with goat cheese.

Mature size is about 3-5 ft high and wide. Space accordingly. Because they can tolerate more shade than many berries they grow well with trees, it’s just they produce less. Since they have shallow roots, currants work well with drip irrigation. Mulch helps them from drying out.

New branches come up from the crown and produce fruit the following year. Prune out wood older than 4 years old so most of the wood is one to three-years old growth.