Blackcurrants

blackcurrantsThe 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.

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.