Blackcurrants A Complete Guide

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This year saw my best ever crop of blackcurrants, sweet and delicious from the summer sun and rather incredibly left alone by birds and other pests. The yield that one bush alone gave me was quite amazing and I look forward to the next couple of years when the later planted bushes begin to mature.


Blackcurrants
 

My fruit bushes were planted in soil which had not been worked for years and the soil is quite rich, a prerequisite for blackcurrants. As with the other fruit bushes I fed the blackcurrants with plenty of potash to encourage growth. I prune the shrubs once the fruit has been picked to allow the new wood enough time to establish itself. Pruning is done by cutting every third branch and any, which have begun to crossover, like other fruits blackcurrant bushes need good air circulation and light to get to the fruits.

Blackcurrants are perhaps best known for their use as a juice or cordial but they also make excellent sorbets, jellies, jam and fruit pudding. Picking is very easy on a heavily laden bush but removing the small brown stem often still attached can be tiresome to say the least which is why all of my preparations involve passing them through a sieve or jelly bag!

Blackcurrants can be found growing wild in damp woodlands but they are uncommon, the fruits and leaves are strongly perfumed and they are usually ready to pick by mid July.

Blackcurrant Jam
2kg/4lb blackcurrants
1.5ltrs/3 pints water
3kg/6lb sugar

Take of any of the small brown stalks still attached to the fruits and wash well. Place in a pan and cover with the water. Simmer gently but make sure the fruit is well cooked, as the skins are tough. The fruit will begin to reduce and thicken so stir constantly. Take off the heat and add the sugar, mix thoroughly. Bring to the boil and cook hard until setting point is achieved. Pot into warm, sterilized jars, makes approximately 4kg/8lb

Content and picture Miles Collins

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