name = Blackcurrant

image_width = 250px
regnum = Plantae
divisio = Magnoliophyta
classis = Magnoliopsida
ordo = Saxifragales
familia = Grossulariaceae
genus = "Ribes"
species = "R. nigrum"
binomial = "Ribes nigrum"
binomial_authority = L.

The Blackcurrant ("Ribes nigrum") is a species of Ribes berry native to central and northern Europe and northern Asia. It is also known as French "cassis".

It is a small shrub growing to 1–2 m tall. The leaves are alternate, simple, 3-5 cm long and broad, and palmately lobed with five lobes, with a serrated margin. The flowers are 4–6 mm diameter, with five reddish-green to brownish petals; they are produced in racemes 5–10 cm long. When not in fruit, the plant looks similar to the redcurrant shrub, distinguished by a strong fragrance from leaves and stems. The fruit is an edible berry 1 cm diameter, very dark purple in color, almost black, with a glossy skin and a persistent calyx at the apex, and containing several seeds dense in nutrients.

Plants from Asia are sometimes distinguished as a separate variety "Ribes nigrum" var. "sibiricum", or even as a distinct species "Ribes cyathiforme".


During World War II, most fruits rich in vitamin C, such as oranges, became almost impossible to obtain in the United Kingdom. Since blackcurrant berries are a rich source of vitamin C and blackcurrant plants are suitable for growing in the UK climate, blackcurrant cultivation was encouraged by the British government. Soon, the yield of the nation's crop increased significantly. From 1942 on, almost the entire British blackcurrant crop was made into blackcurrant syrup (or cordial) and distributed to the nation's children free, giving rise to the lasting popularity of blackcurrant flavorings in Britain.

Blackcurrants were once popular in the United States as well, but became extremely rare in the 20th century after currant farming was banned in the early 1900s. The ban occurred on the "discovery" that blackcurrants facilitated the tree disease, white pine blister rust, once thought a threat to the U.S. lumber industry. [ [ US Agricultural Research Service Note] ] The federal ban on growing currants was shifted to individual States' jurisdiction in 1966, and was lifted in New York State in 2003 through the efforts of horticulturist Greg Quinn. As a result, currant growing is making a comeback in New York, Vermont, Connecticut and Oregon. [ [ New York Times] ] [USDA Plant profile for Ribes nigrum L., European black currant [] ] However, several statewide bans still exist including MaineFact|date=September 2008, MassachusettsFact|date=September 2008 and New Hampshire [NH RSA 227-K, White Pine Blister Rust Control Areas [] ] . Since the federal ban ceased currant production anywhere in the U.S., the fruit is not well-known and has yet to reach the popularity that it had in 19th century United States or that it currently has in Europe. Since blackcurrants are a strong source of antioxidants and vitamins, awareness and popularity are once again growing, with a number of consumer products entering the market.


name=currants, European black, raw
protein=1.4 g
fat=0.4 g
carbs=15.4 g
The fruit has an extraordinarily high vitamin C content (302% of the Daily Value per 100g, table), and more potassium than bananas. Other antioxidants in the fruit (polyphenols/anthocyanins) have been demonstrated in laboratory experiments to possess the potential to inhibit inflammation mechanisms, which may lower the risk of developing various types of degenerative diseases (e.g. heart disease, cancer). It has also been demonstrated that these nutrients provide effective protection against degrading neurological functions, such as Alzheimer's disease.Black Currants May Help Thwart Alzheimer's; Chemistry & Industry Magazine, January 23, 2006] Blackcurrants also yield a good range of other essential nutrients. Blackcurrant seed oil is also rich in many nutrients, especially gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an essential fatty acid. [Traitler H, Winter H, Richli U, Ingenbleek Y. Characterization of gamma-linolenic acid in Ribes seed. Lipids. 1984 Dec;19(12):923-8. [] ]

Culinary uses

In the UK, blackcurrant cordial is often mixed with cider to make a drink called Cider & Black available at pubs. Adding a small amount of blackcurrant juice to Guinness is preferred by some to heighten the taste of the popular beer.In Russia, blackcurrant leaves are often used for flavoring tea. Sweetened vodka may also be infused with blackcurrant leaves or berries, making a deep yellowish-green beverage with a sharp flavor and astringent taste.

Blackcurrant berries have a distinctive sweet and sharp taste popular in jelly, jam, juice, ice cream, and liqueur (see Ribena). They are a common ingredient of Rote Grütze, a popular kissel-like dessert in German cusine. In the UK, Europe and Commonwealth countries, some types of confectionery include a blackcurrant flavor, and in Belgium and the Netherlands, "cassis" is a favored currant soft drink. In the United States, other than Ribena, a nationally available blackcurrant beverage is called CurrantC. Blackcurrant syrup mixed with white wine is called Kir or Kir Royale when mixed with Champagne.


Other than being juiced and used in jellies, syrups, and cordials, blackcurrants are used in cooking because their astringent nature brings out flavor in many sauces, meat dishes and desserts. It was once thought that currants needed to be "topped and tailed" (the stalk and flower-remnants removed) before cooking. However, this is not the case as these parts are easily assimilated during the cooking process. If one prefers, the whole blackcurrant stem with fruit can be frozen, then shaken vigorously. The tops and tails are broken off and fruit can be separated easily.

Notes & References

ee also

*"Cecidophyopsis ribis" – the blackcurrant gall mite

External links

* [] - Extensive information about black currants
* [ The Blackcurrant Foundation]
* [ Are They Currants or Raisins?] : A short essay making a case that blackcurrants are real currants while "Zante currants" (which are known simply as "currants" in the U.S. and some other parts of the world) are not. It shows no awareness of the theory that blackcurrants and redcurrants took their English name from Zante currants, which seem be the same fruits that were called "raysons of coraunce" (with various spellings) in Middle English, from Old French "raisins de Corauntz". It also mistakenly gives the confusion a recent date.
* [ Blackcurrant recipes]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • blackcurrant — ► NOUN ▪ the small round edible black berry of a shrub …   English terms dictionary

  • blackcurrant — UK [ˌblækˈkʌrənt] / US [blækˈkʌrənt] noun [countable/uncountable] Word forms blackcurrant : singular blackcurrant plural blackcurrants a small soft dark fruit that grows especially in Europe on a bush called a blackcurrant bush …   English dictionary

  • blackcurrant — [[t]blæ̱kkʌ̱rənt, AM kɜːrənt[/t]] blackcurrants N COUNT In Europe, blackcurrants are a type of very small, dark purple fruits that grow in bunches on bushes. [BRIT] Place the blackcurrants in a pan. ...a carton of blackcurrant drink …   English dictionary

  • blackcurrant — noun (C) 1 a European plant that grows in gardens and has small blue black berries (berry) 2 a berry from this plant: blackcurrant juice compare redcurrant …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • blackcurrant — noun a) A shrub that produces small, very dark purple, edible berries. b) The berry borne by this shrub …   Wiktionary

  • blackcurrant — black|cur|rant [ˌblækˈkʌrənt US ˈkə:r ] n a small blue black ↑berry that grows in bunches on a bush …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • blackcurrant — black cur·rant || ‚blæ kÊŒrÉ™nt n. type of berry …   English contemporary dictionary

  • blackcurrant — noun 1》 a small round edible black berry which grows in loose hanging clusters. 2》 the widely cultivated shrub which bears blackcurrants. [Ribes nigrum.] …   English new terms dictionary

  • blackcurrant — [ˌblækˈkʌrənt] noun [C/U] a small soft dark fruit that grows on bushes in Europe …   Dictionary for writing and speaking English

  • blackcurrant — /blækˈkʌrənt / (say blak kuruhnt) noun 1. the small, black edible fruit of the shrub Ribes nigrum. 2. the shrub itself …   Australian English dictionary

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