currants to grow in our garden-then what do do??

careytearose(z9 NoCal)June 15, 2007

I'm fairly new to this forum, so I'm hoping some can help me out here. I'm a huge fan of the English Garden/Cottage Garden style and was interested in growing black currants, as they seem like a good plant to add to what we currently grow here. I've only had them in a scone mix, what else can be made with currants?? They are sort of like small raisins, or dried cranberries aren't they? If we grow them, I'd like to incorporate them into fun things we can cook with our two children, ages almost 13 and 11 yo. Do these require a large area to grow, do I need a trellis or fence line for them, etc. Any info would be most welcomed!

To see pics of our recent gardening/landscaping projects and roses we grow, ck out my Picture Trail:


Here is a link that might be useful: look at Landscaping Projects 2007, Favourite ROSES We Grow albums

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careytearose, your gardens are beautiful! I'm passing on your teapot vase idea to my young cousin, who is a "Disney Princess" and American Girl fantic.

Never used currants myself (aren't they frequently in Moroccan cooking?), but you might enjoy making granola with your kids. There are a million possible combinations of fruit, nuts, coconut, seeds, candy, etc., and the topping itself may be varied, so their mixes could be to each of their tastes. Did this to make snacks during midterms -- very easy and not too time consuming.

Here is a link that might be useful: Basic Recipe

    Bookmark   June 20, 2007 at 2:36PM
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careytearose(z9 NoCal)

Thank you thorndncr for the encouraging words about our garden and the teapot/vase flower arrangement! And especially thanks for the granola recipe. I remember my mom making this when we were kids. It was so yummy! Now I can make it with my own children. A good summer fun thing to do with them, they can choose the add-ins!


    Bookmark   June 20, 2007 at 7:31PM
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You probably need to determine whether you're actually wanting black currants - Ribes spp. - or whether you're wanting the 'Zante currant' - a small seedless grape that's commonly dried and incorporated into currant buns, fruit cakes, etc.

While some folks love currants, I've seen too many discusssions in which folks liken the flavor of black currants, in particular, to the smell of cat urine. Doesn't sound very appealing to me - but, I've got some young plants growing, of varieties recommended to me by some real Ribes enthusiasts - though they've not fruited yet for me.
I love gooseberries, which are closely related to the currants, and they definitely don't taste like cat pee.

Whitman Farms is THE source for currant/gooseberry plants, but I don't know if they can ship to CA.

Here is a link that might be useful: Whitman Farms

    Bookmark   June 21, 2007 at 10:33AM
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katielovesdogs(z5b/6a Indiana)

I've eaten them raw with a vanilla sauce.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 8:37AM
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I eat my black currants right off the bush -- love it. Many folks make jam, juice (sweetened and unsweetened). The juice, dose is trial and error, is a well-established treatment for migraines. They work in salads and in cooking as a substitute for other fruit -- remember it's a tart flavor, not sweet. Enjoy.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2007 at 9:38PM
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yeshwant91(Z7a NYC)

The Ribes Black currants (not related to the dried small grapes which were called currants since the original shipment was from Corinth and the name was misread) can be used to make a delicious sauce that goes just perfect with meat, poultry or on icecream. Just add sugar to the currants, and a stick of cinnamon or some cloves, and sauce them. It keeps for days in the frig. I have also mixed a few tablespoons of this sauce with Seltzer to make an Italian soda for those hot summer days. They do have a unique taste, but that is why they seem to complement meat so well. The color of the sauce is spectacular, deep purple.
The fruit is said to be among the highest in antioxidants (for what that's worth) and prevents Alzheimers (see link)

If after all this they do not appeal to you, try red currants. The bush is lovely (and similar), the fruits are bright red and hang in translucent clusters, and I have made a bright red jam out of them (not a jelly) that is the best jam I've ever tasted. And no aftertaste (less anitoxidants too). You could also make a pie. Rovada is supposed to be the best cultivar.
I have ordered them and gooseberries for next spring.
Best of luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: The currant company

    Bookmark   September 13, 2007 at 12:17PM
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mauch1(z6b PA)

First, you need to find out if California allows the Ribes genus to be imported (if buying from out of state). The Ribes genus is the obligatory alternate host of White Pine Blister Rust. When white pine was a valuable timber tree (not as true now), many states passed laws against allowing Ribes to be brought into their state. [In truth - many Ribes do not naturally get WPBR, however Black Current tends to be the most susceptible, but varieties resistant to it have been bred].

Two, Will Ribes grow in your area? I noted that you are zone 9. Generally Ribes are rated 4-7/8 (one of the most cold hardy of fruits). The further south - the more shade they need. However I did find one Southerly Currant that is rated 7-9 (Pulsborough Scarlet flowering currant - see link)

Three, none of the Ribes/Currants produce 'sweet' fruit.
Gooseberries - Generally extremely thorny, sweet/tart fruits. Fruit is like a firm grape in texture. There is one or two thornless varieties.
Red/White currants - very seed/extremely tart fruit. Best used for jelly. But makes more of a jelly for cooking (i.e. glaze etc.) rather than something you'd enjoy on toast (unless you don't like sweet jelly/jam on your toast).
Black Currant - Some people like them raw, but I always thought they tasted like dirt. Very good/powerful aroma cooked. Supposedly high in anti-oxidants. Bigelow's (I think) used to sell a black currant tea made from the leaves, it had a powerful (good) aroma (you could smell it easily through the box's plastic wrapping, the tea had a good aroma, but the tea had no flavor (would be good mixed with something else). Stay away from the varieties Consort/Crusade - WPBR resistant, but nothing else to recommend them. Some of the newer varieties out of Europe are supposed to be good.
Gooseberry/Black currant hybrids - Famous variety is known as "jostaberry". Huge bush, moderately productive, not much Blackcurrent flavor, but not as good as a gooseberry. The newer Orus out of Germany is supposedly much better - it does however have some thorns.

Here is a link that might be useful: Raintree Currant Listings

    Bookmark   September 14, 2007 at 11:53AM
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yeshwant91(Z7a NYC)

Agree with Mauch 1 except for the red currant jam/ jelly: the one I made with fruit from the Farmer's market although seedy was seedy in a good way: provided crunch. The taste according to my mother-in-law, a skilled jam maker (and critic of course) was a 10. And I thought so too. Sort of like a strawberry jam, but mixed tart and sweet (depending on how much sugar you use), beautifully bright red (not dark red like other jams), and the first batch did not need pectin, sinc they were a little unripe. I can see it doing beautifully on scones, buns, etc. Why not see if you can buy some at a Farmer's market and make a jelly/ jam. Same for black currants. If you cannot find them locally, then I suppose that will tell you that maybe they are difficult to grow where you are. Also check your local agricultural extension service. They will tell you what you can and cannot grow locally.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2007 at 1:01PM
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mauch1(z6b PA)

As to the red currant jam vs. jelly issue, I leave that to say "different strokes for different folks".

I forgot to mention there's a another kind of currant, often lumped in with Black, but it's different - It's known as 'Clove' Currant. I think it's Ribes auream. It has very powerfully, pleasant smelling yellow flowers in spring. It's fruit is similar to black currant (*I have not personnally grown black or clove currant -- I have tasted fresh black currant fruit).

    Bookmark   September 14, 2007 at 3:28PM
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