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Currants Currently Ripe!

By Geri Anderson

I am generally willing to try something new. So one year I ordered four fruit bushes along with two sets of strawberries from Gurneys http://www.gurneys.com


This is the South Dakota nursery I have had great experience with over fourteen years and three distinct growing regions—planting beach roses and an apricot tree literally on the beach in Massachusetts, a fruitless pear and bleeding hearts in the Humidity west of Houston, Texas, and strawberries, rhubarb, hasta, etc. here.

Anyway, my first spring back in the valley I ordered a red currant bush and three blueberry bushes--as I'd come to love blueberries when living on the East Coast and in Texas. However, sadly I discovered the error of trying to raise blueberries in a desert climate—they like an acid soil and lots of humidity, and no matter what we did to try to create these attributes, the blueberries suffered—but the currant has done well. It’s grown to about 4 feet tall.


Its fruit is tiny and tart. According to Gurney’s, red currants are “juicy and quite tart…traditionally used for jellies, jams, and cooked desserts”. The currants have a small seed in some of the fruit (or maybe it’s simply that the seed is large enough to be noticed in some fruit..?)
They grow on tiny stems, with many fruit branched off the main stem, rather like grapes do (in miniature). Here’s about a fourth of the crop, on a saucer. I harvested about 5 cups, cleaned, and this would be my fourth growing season.

Okay, so the plant thrives and the fruit is currently ready--and pretty.  What next?  What does one do with currants?  I scoured my cookbooks....and, I am going to try them in two recipes, as I am not in the mood for making jelly. So I will blog and let you know the verdict:

  • Currant Pie or
  • Red Currant Muffins!

Does anyone have childhood memories of currant desserts?  Can anyone else attest to its flavor in homemade jams and jellies?  I know one lifelong resident fruit grower tells me they made currant jelly last year, and "Currant jelly is the best there is!"

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