What Is the Taste of Blackcurrant: The Forgotten and Forbidden Fruit

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Blackcurrants, sometimes known as black currants, are little black berries that grow on the woody Ribes nigrum shrub, which belongs to the Ribes genus in the Grossulariaceae (gooseberry) family. There are several blackcurrant variations, including European and native American forms.

Blackcurrants have thin skins and exceptionally juicy and soft inners, as well as little seeds that are eaten together with the berries.

They have a grape-like, somewhat acidic scent with cherry undertones. When dried, blackcurrants might have fragrance overtones of wildflower and vanilla.

They have a deep and black berry taste with earthy undertones when fresh, but they are frequently too acidic to consume raw due to their high tannin content. When dried, blackcurrants become sweeter and resemble little raisins.

For some, blackcurrants have an acquired taste, but when cooked, they lose much of the earthy overtones that might be off-putting.

Continue reading to discover more about blackcurrants and how to use them in the kitchen. We also investigate the history of blackcurrants and why they became a forgotten and prohibited fruit in the United States. We’ll also look at how they’re making a resurgence now, as more and more people realize how nutritious these little berries are.

Currants, Black Currants or Blackcurrants?

Currants are little raisins or dried Corinth grapes, often known as Zante currants since they were originally grown in Corinth, Greece, west of Athens. These little, black currants are often used in fruit pastries. Nonetheless, Zante currants are often advertised as dried black currants, which adds to the misunderstanding.

Blackcurrant is often spelled as a single word, however it is also written as black currant. This implies that if you’re searching for dried blackcurrants, double-check the label to verify you’re getting the berries you’re seeking for rather than currants for a cake.

Maybe the French make it simpler by referring to currants as raisins de Corinthe and blackcurrants as cassis. The major component in the crme de cassis alcoholic cordial used to produce Kirs or Kir Royales beverages is blackcurrants.

Blackcurrants may also be used to make wine, and if you add a little blackcurrant juice to hard cider, you’ll get a drink of cider and black, or a glass of black and black if you add it to Guinness.

If you purchase anything with cassis flavour, it will include some blackcurrant.

Buying and Storing Blackcurrants

Fresh blackcurrants, as well as their redcurrant and white currant relatives, are significantly more difficult to get in the United States. If fresh blackcurrants are accessible in your state, the farmers market or a specialized shop are typically the best places to find them. They’re often sold by the stem.

When purchasing fresh blackcurrants, aim for ones that are black or dark purple in color, with transparent, somewhat glossy skins. They must be firm and not shriveled. Depending on the location, they are accessible from early June to late September.

Blackcurrants, like other berries, do not keep well once plucked. They are best kept covered in the refrigerator, where they will keep for a few days. Blackcurrants should only be cleaned when ready to use, since they may rapidly mold if washed before storing in the fridge. When ready to use, remove the stems and tips before cooking.

You can freeze blackcurrants. Just remove the stems and tips, wash and dry them, then place them on a baking sheet. Put it in the freezer and, after frozen, place the blackcurrants in a zip bag.

Blackcurrants may also be dehydrated and stored for later use.

Easy Ways to Try Out Blackcurrants

Blackcurrants are often used in sweets such as muffins, scones, tarts, puddings, cobblers, cheesecakes, and pies in lieu of other berries such as blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries.

Jellies, jams, and chutneys are additional common uses for blackcurrants, and they may be converted into juices, smoothies, ice creams, and sorbets, among other things.

Blackcurrants pair nicely with other summer fruits like strawberries and raspberries, which serve to balance out some of the harsher tastes of the blackcurrants. They go well with apples as well.

You may use blackcurrants to make homemade mincemeat for Christmas, dark chocolate dishes, or to add acidity to tropical fruit salads that are otherwise sweet.

Blackcurrants go well with darker meats and may be used to produce a rich sauce or glaze for hog, duck, venison, and other meats.

The simplest method to sample blackcurrants is to gently boil some fresh ones in a skillet with a little water and sugar or sweetener until the berries burst. This sauce is then served with fresh fruit, ice cream, or cheesecake.

You might also create fresh blackcurrant juice for an antioxidant boost. In a large saucepan, bring 10 fl. oz. of water and 10 oz. of sugar to a moderate simmer. Add a pound of blackcurrants, as well as the juice and zest of two lemons. Simmer gradually until the blackcurrants soften and rupture their skins.

This juice should then be squeezed through a jelly bag or muslin and put in sterilized bottles. This will stay in the refrigerator for about a month. Dilute the blackcurrant juice with water or soda at a 1:4 ratio.

The Importance of Blackcurrants in Europe

Blackcurrants are native to Northern Europe and Asia, and they were first grown in Russia in the 11th century. They were being farmed in Europe by the 17th century, and not simply for food; the leaves, roots, and bark were often utilized in medical cures.

Blackcurrants, sometimes referred to as a forgotten fruit, performed an important role during WWII. When the United Kingdom was unable to import citrus fruits from Europe owing to German blockades, the government of the United Kingdom classified blackcurrants as a viable alternative, and children under the age of two were given free doses of blackcurrant syrup (to help prevent vitamin C deficiency).

People in the UK acquired a strong love for blackcurrants during this period, as many were encouraged to cultivate them at home and professionally. Ribena, a blackcurrant beverage, is still a popular drink among both children and adults. The majority of blackcurrants harvested now are for juice, with Europe supplying 99.1% of commercial currants (blackcurrant, redcurrants and white currants).

Even now, purple sweets in Europe are often flavored with blackcurrant rather than grape.

Why Blackcurrants Became Forgotten and Forbidden in the US

Blackcurrants were accessible in the United States at one point, and over 12,000 acres of blackcurrants were produced commercially in 1899.

Nevertheless, blackcurrants were associated with white pine blister rust (WPBR), a tree fungus introduced to the United States with white pine seedlings from Europe in the nineteenth century. The fungus was able to spread to blackcurrants before returning to the white pine trees.

Due of the possible influence of white pine blister rust on the logging industry, commercial growing of blackcurrants was banned in 1911, and a campaign was also begun to remove existing fields of blackcurrants.

Several plants, including those native to the United States, were discovered to be capable of acting as an intermediate host or vector to WPBR, similar to blackcurrants.

The federal restriction on blackcurrants was transferred to state authorities in 1966, and bans were later abolished in certain areas, notably New York State in 2003. This came after a successful lobbying campaign and the creation of disease-resistant blackcurrant cultivars.

Since the USDA does not currently monitor blackcurrant production, it is impossible to determine how many are farmed, however blackcurrant farms may be found in New York, Connecticut, British Columbia, Washington, and Canada.

Since certain governments still prohibit the cultivation of blackcurrants, you may be unable to get fresh blackcurrants. Alternately, you might use dried blackcurrants or commercial juices.

Superfruit Blackcurrants

With three to four times the vitamin C concentration of oranges by weight and double the antioxidant value of blueberries, it’s no surprise that blackcurrants are making a comeback in the United States.

Even after six months of storage, blackcurrant juice may still contain up to 250 milligrams of vitamin C per 100 mL (3.4 oz) of juice.

(Image credit: AnnJury through Pixabay.com)

A one-ounce serving of fresh blackcurrants includes 57% of our daily need of vitamin C, as well as minor levels of other vitamins such as A, B6, B12, E, and others.

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is an antioxidant that aids in the battle against free radical damage in the body. Free radicals are formed as a result of our metabolic processes, and we are also exposed to them via our surroundings, such as air pollution and UV radiation from the sun.

Vitamin C also has various functions, including immune system support and wound healing.

Vitamin C insufficiency is uncommon in the United States currently, although scurvy is the most common illness caused by a lack of vitamin C. Joint discomfort, bleeding gums and tooth loss, anemia, tiny purple or red patches on the skin, and poor wound healing are all symptoms.

Blackcurrants also include minerals such as iron, which is necessary for the synthesis of red blood cells, and copper, which is required by the body for metabolism and collagen creation. Copper also aids in the absorption of iron and the battle against free radical damage in the body. A sufficient copper consumption has been related to a decreased risk of developing anemia, osteoporosis, and osteoarthritis.

A one-ounce portion of fresh blackcurrants has just 18 calories.

Dried blackcurrants are also high in nutrients. A half cup of dried blackcurrants contains soluble and insoluble fiber and offers 5 grams of dietary fiber, which is around 20% of our required daily consumption. This same amount of dried blackcurrants will also provide you with around 37% of your daily copper need and 15% of your daily manganese requirement, both of which are required to support hormone synthesis, fertility, and other activities.

A half cup of dried blackcurrants also provides around 14% of our daily potassium intake. This is one among the seven key macrominerals required by human bodies to sustain certain processes. Potassium, in particular, promotes cardiovascular, bone, and muscular function.

A lack of potassium in the body has been related to cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. Potassium also aids in the preservation of muscle mass in the elderly, which may be lost due to the metabolic acidosis caused by our usual western diet of processed cereals, dairy, and animal items.

Gamma linolenic acid (GLA) is present in blackcurrants as well as other plants’ seeds and oils. GLA is a polyunsaturated fatty acid, sometimes known as omega-6. These fatty acids are located in our cell membranes and play a role in signaling, enzyme reactions, and other activities that influence immunological and inflammatory processes.

GLA has been found in studies to give some comfort to patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, and while data is limited, it may also aid in decreasing LDL (bad) and total cholesterol levels.

GLA in combination with other compounds has also been linked to improved eye health, with studies showing that blackcurrant can improve blood flow to the eyes, reduce symptoms of eye fatigue, improve the ability to adapt to darkness, and slow some of the deterioration of the visual field in those with glaucoma. It may also be beneficial to persons suffering from Dry Eye Syndrome.

Gamma-linoleic acid (GLA) and potassium may help reduce platelet aggregation or clumping in blood arteries. A research study found that athletes recovered better after exercise when given blackcurrant as a powder supplement.

Anthocyanins, which are flavonoid molecules, give blackcurrants their dark color. They are natural antioxidants that aid in the fight against free radical molecules in the body.

Other components of the blackcurrant plant, such as the seeds and leaves, are used as supplements, as is blackcurrant seed oil, which has been found to boost immunological response in healthy volunteers aged 65 and above.


While the blackcurrant was forgotten and outlawed in the past, this little but powerful super fruit is making a welcome reappearance in at least certain states!

While the intense berry taste and earthy undertones of fresh blackcurrants are not for everyone, they do shed some of those earthy qualities when cooked.

If we haven’t convinced you that fresh blackcurrants are worth a try, why not try dried blackcurrants? They have a sweeter taste when dried and make it simple to provide a nutritional boost to your favorite foods.


What does blackcurrant taste like?

How Does Black Currant Taste? Because of their high tannin content, black currants have a distinct, acidic flavor. These berries have a deep earthy flavor. Many describe the flavor as grape-like and acidic, with traces of cherry.

Is blackcurrant sweet or sour?

Since blackcurrants are sour, most people don’t consume them fresh like raspberries or strawberries. Instead, they are often combined with other fruits or turned into jams, compotes, or syrups. Blackcurrants pair well with apples in a crumble or with other berries in a variety of dishes.

What is the sweetest blackcurrant?

‘Ebony’ blackcurrant is the sweetest blackcurrant! When completely ripe, this superb dessert type is so delicious that it may be eaten directly off the bush. During early to mid July, heavy harvests of huge, hard currants – each one up to double the size of a conventional blackcurrant – are produced for harvesting.

Why don t Americans have blackcurrant flavour?

The US Department of Agriculture was forced to restrict black currants because the plants became a vector for a disease that threatened to wipe out all of America’s pines. This may seem to be an excessive approach, but it was required at the time to preserve the logging business.

Can blackcurrants be eaten raw?

Although black currants have a strong flavor, they are wonderful raw when ripe. You may also include them into a number of dishes. Heating with sugar and other fruits to produce jam is one technique to cook black currants.

What fruit is closest to black currant?

Fresh, under-ripened blueberries will have a taste similar to fresh currants. Yet, dried blueberries and dried black currants complement each other well. Blueberries may be used in place of black currants in sauces and spreads, tarts, pastries, stuffing, and savory meals.

Why don’t america use blackcurrant?

The plant serves as a host for the white pine blister rust, which has posed a danger to the wood sector. To conserve the white pine, the federal authorities prohibited the production, sale, and transportation of blackcurrants in 1911. Chemical spraying was used by government initiatives to methodically kill blackcurrant plants.

Why can’t you get blackcurrant in America?

Blackcurrant bushes were first planted in America in the 1630s, but professional cultivation of the plant was prohibited in 1911. It is a host for a fungus known as white pine blister rust. As a result, blackcurrant was deemed banned in order to safeguard pine trees.

What are the side effects of black currant?

Blood clotting may be slowed by black currant. If you have a bleeding condition or use blood thinners, avoid taking it.
The GLA found in black currant seeds may sometimes induce negative effects such as headache.
Belching and belching.

Can you eat American black currant?

Ribes americanum, sometimes known as the Wild Black Currant, is a flowering shrub endemic to North America, including Lake County. The plant’s fruits are delicious and may be utilized in a variety of sweet desserts.

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