Black Currants

About Black Currants

Black Currants (Ribes nigrum) is a cold-climate shrub native to northern Europe and Asia, and have been in cultivation for nearly 500 years. Widely grown throughout Europe, black currants are lesser known in the United States, largely due to a ban on currant farming in the early 1900s, when white blister rust – vectored by black currants – threatened the U.S. logging industry. Although the federal ban was relegated to state jurisdiction in the 1960s, black currants have yet to gain the popularity they boast in Europe. We only grow one variety of black currants, Titania. We originally planted two varieties but we found that Consort has severe powdery mildew problems. Unfortunately, we had to pull out all 120 plants. We obtained the nursery stock from St Lawrence Nursery in upstate New York. 

Health Benefits

Black currants are packed with antioxidants, vitamin C, potassium as well as iron, calcium, manganese, and magnesium. Research led by the Scottish Crop Reseach Institute has confirmed that black currants have higher levels of antioxidants and total vitamins and minerals than virutally any other fruit, including blueberries and pomegranates. The type of antioxidant that black currants have is called anthocyanins. Research has shown black currants are beneficial in warding off ailments including heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's disease (Tufts University Study 2006), diabetes and high blood pressure. Black currant seeds are rich in gamma-linoleic acid (GLA), which is believed to reduce inflammation of arthritis, lupus, and other inflammatory diseases. GLA also inhibits blood clotting and thus may protect against heart attacks and strokes. The leaves and berries also contain substances that have antifungal and antibacterial properties and is effective in treating diarrhea cause by E. coli.

Using Black Currants

While some individuals are happy eating black currants picked fresh off the bush, its strong and astringent flavor is often considered an acquired taste. We recommend processing the fruits. The berries make excellent jellies, jams, juices, wines, and sauces, or can be dried and added to baked goods. Cordials made from black currants are very popular in Europe. It is used as a liqueur in drinks, or taken as medicine for various ailments. Herbal extracts and powders can also be used for the multitude of health benefits offered by black currants.