Green Your Home, Your Family and Your Life!

Green Your Home, Your Family and Your Life!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Currants In The Home Garden

Closeup of Black Currant (Ribes nigrum) berriesCloseup of Black Currant (Ribes nigrum) berries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)I've decided to stick with berries for another day - in honor of my berry monsters. Today I'm going to share about a berry that we love to find growing in the wild - currants!

As hot and dry as the Dakota prairies can be during summer, the adjacent Black Hills are cool and surprisingly moist. Many of our family hikes take us along creeks in the Hills, which also happens to be the habitat in which currants grow best.

Currants are next to impossible to find fresh commercially, and for many years they were outlawed from home gardens due to their role in the spread of white pine blister rust. The ban on growing currants was lifted in 1966, but it's still pretty rare to find home gardeners cultivating this delicious berry.

Currant bushes are fairly tolerant in terms of cultivation, but they must have moist, well-drained, slightly acidic soil or they won't thrive and certainly won't set fruit. They prefer full sun, but will tolerate some shade provided that they're not grown in a chilly depression of land.

Black currants, like other dark berries, are high in antioxidants and vitamin C. Red, white and even pink currant bushes are also available but these tend to be more decorative. Don't get me wrong, these bushes also produce healthy berries, but if you want the biggest health benefits, grow black currants.

In the past, currants enjoyed widespread use in jams, jellies, wines and cordials. Our family's favorite way to eat currants (other than right off the bush during a hike) is dried and added to warm or cold cereals. Dried currants can also be added to baked goods or boiled with apples and other berries for a delicious winter fruit compote.

We're not sure yet if we're going to try to grow currants at Rainbow's Acre. The property is pretty dry and lacking in moist places (unless we create some with swales) plus we are able to gather what our family needs from the wild. It may be something that we consider in the future though.

What about you? Are you interested in growing currant bushes?

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  1. Mmmmm... black currants! I love blackcurrant flavored anything, but I don't think I've ever actually had the real McCoy. I would love to add black currants to my morning steel cut oats. That would be perfect.

  2. Black currants are so yummy! I wish I had some of those bushes around me. Lucky you.

  3. I've had currant flavored foods, but never had the real thing. would like to try that one of these days
    Great A-Z post!

  4. I have a standard recipe although if it is still written down anywhere I don't know where for making fruit cordial. It has been my pleasure to have made cordial out of black currants many decades ago. I had almost forgotten about black currant and even making cordial until you wrote this post. Thank you Lilly. I'm @grammakaye on twitter.

    1. many years ago I made the mistake of planting a FLOWERING currant. It is big and glorious, but alas, it bears only a few insipid fruit a year. Last spring I planted 4 baby currant bushes, two pink, two red. This spring they are nicely budded out. I can't wait for my first harvest!
      Mimi Torchia Boothby Watercolors