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Blackcurrant
 

The Blackcurrant (Ribes nigrum) is a species of the Ribes berry, which is native to central and northern Europe and northern Asia. It is also known as French "cassis". It is a shrub, which generally grows to about 2 meters in height and has woody branches. The leaves of the shrub are deeply lobed. It bears small white flowers, often in clusters. The fruit, the blackcurrants, are dark purple in colour and bloom in the summer months. All parts of the plant, i.e. the fruits, leaves and the seeds can be utilized. All parts of the plant, but especially the young buds have a strong and typical blackcurrant fragrance.

The blackcurrant plant is a hermaphrodite, i.e. it is both a male and a female; making it a self-fertile plant. The pollination is usually caused by the bees. The berry has a rich, dark and glossy dark violet

colour. It is often used to make dark violet dyes. The leaves of the shrub are also used in the fabrication of yellow dyes. Oil can be extracted from the seeds of the fruit and this oil is often used in cosmetics.

The fruit can be eaten raw or in processed forms like jams and jellies. It is a rich source of Vitamin C and Gamma-Linoleic Acid. It is believed to have more potassium than bananas. The leaves of the plant are are extremely scented and make for excellent flavour enhancers in soups. The dried leaves of the plant are also used in making teas.

The blackcurrants are believed to have originated from central and eastern Europe and are now grown in all regions with cold and mild climates. The fruit is the favourite of the beverage industry, specially in countries such as United Kingdom, the Netherlands and France. These drinks are promoted for their high vitamin C content. In France, a liqueur called the creme de cassis is prepared from the blackcurrants.

 

Growing Blackcurrants
Blackcurrants grow best in a soil having a pH balance ranging between 6.7 to 7, as the plant is intolerant to acidity. Sandy loam soil is perfect for the cultivation of the fruit but it also grows wonderfully in a moisture retentive loamy soil. Nitrogen is an important component required for the growth of this fruit, and should be present in plenty in the soil to obtain a good yield. They yield more in sunny and windless sites, but they are tolerant to mild shade and wind. The blackcurrant plants usually bear fruit after one year of their planting.

Pollination is carried out by birds, bees and insects, even though the plant is capable of self pollination.

One should be careful of not planting blackcurrant bushes in the vicinity of pine trees, as the plant is susceptible to catch white pine blister rust. The plant is also prone to the honey fungus.
 

Uses of Blackcurrants

  • Blackcurrant is a rich source of vitamin C and is often consumed as juice by many individuals
  • Blackcurrant concentrate is often mixed with cider to make a drink called Cider & Black
  • In many parts of Russia, blackcurrant leaves are often used to flavour teas
  • Blackcurrant leaves or fruit may be added to sweetened vodka to result in a yellowish-green beverage with a sharp astringent taste
  • The fruit may be used to make a variety of jams, jellies, ice creams and beverages
  • They are a common ingredient of Rote Grütze, a popular dessert in German cusine
  • The astringent flavour of the berry helps in bringing out the flavour of a number of sauces, meat dishes and desserts
  • Blackcurrant flavoured candies are a favourite among children.
 
Blackcurrant Recipes    
  • Blackcurrant and Rose Water Mousses
  • Blackcurrant Baked Alaska
  • Blackcurrant Cheesecake
  • Blackcurrant Float
  • Blackcurrant Fluff
  • Blackcurrant Fool
  • Blackcurrant Sorbet
  • Blackcurrant Whip (Whipped Jelly)
  • Chump Chops with Blackcurrant Sauce
  • Creamy Blackcurrant Cheesecake
  • Creamy Blackcurrant Crunch
  • Blackcurrant Jelly
  • Pork with Blackcurrant
  • Strawberry and Blackcurrant Snow Cream, and many more.
 

Health Benefits
Black Currants are a rich source of a number of phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, essential fatty acids and minerals. Some health benefits associated with these berries include:

  • They are a rich source of Vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant
  • Black Currants are also a high source of potassium, and are known to have twice the amount of potassium than bananas
  • The Anthocyanins present in the berries inhibit the enzymes Cyclo-oxygenase 1 and 2 in the body, and reduce inflammation and the effects of arthritis in the body. The effect provided by the black currants is similar to that of asprin; this is the reason why many people are opting for this healthy juice over these drugs
  • The juice of black currant contains proanthocyanidins, anthocyanins and a polysaccharide-rich substance, cassis polysaccharide (CAPS), and has macrophage-stimulating activity. CAPS has been proven to be very toxic against tumor cells. Studies and research are on to determine the anti-cancer properties of black currants
  • Anthocyanins have been found to be heat and light sensitive, so the processing of blackcurrants is controlled very carefully to ensure they keep their nutritional properties
  • Black Currant seeds contain gamma-linoleic, which is rarely found in any other natural resource, and both alpha and gamma-linoleic are essential fatty acids and cannot be produced by the body on its own
  • Black Currant Leaves are primarily utilized for their diuretic property. A tea made from dried black currant leaves may be consumed to provide relief against bleeding gums, diarrhea, urinary problems and coughs
  • As the black currants have an alkalizing effect, they are ideally suited for the treatment of uric acid stone disease. They not only increase the urinary pH level but also the excretion of citric acid in the body
  • Syrup made from black currant juice is used for treating coughs and sore throats. The anthocyanidins present in the blackcurrant berries are responsible for their antioxidant and antibacterial properties.
 
 



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