Wild Edible Of The Week - Week 18 - "Blackcurrant"

Botanical name : Ribes nigrum

Common names : Blackcurrant,

Physical appearance : An upright shrub growing up to 1.5 metres high. Its flowers have drooping, stalked spikes. Its berries are opaque black and begin to appear in June and ripen in July.

Edible parts : The berries can be eaten raw or can be prepared in many different ways. The leaves can also be used for flavouring or to make various infusions.

Best places to find : Most commonly found in damp woodlands, hedges and by water.

Time of year : The fruits tend to ripen between June and July.

Serving suggestions : Being high in pectin, blackcurrants make excellent jam and can be used to bulk out many other jams and preserves. The berries are commonly used to make a variety of cakes, desserts and puddings and are added for flavour to alcohol, teas and other drinks. Blackcurrants also work well with meats, particularly game. Polar explorers used "pemmican" an  American dish consisting of currants, dried meat and fat. Pemmican is nutritionally a very well balanced meal which contains almost everything one needs to stay healthy and alive. Ideal for long journeys.

Other uses : A great source of vitamin C, Vitamin B 1,2,3,5 and 6, Vitamin E, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorous, Potassium, Sodium, Zinc, Water, Fat, Carbohydrates, Protein and Fat. In its preserved state, blackberry preserves can offer a great boost in mid winter.

NB - Please be sure you know what you are picking. Many plants look similar to one another and many can be poisonous!  Please seek professional instruction if you are unsure! Don't risk your life!!!

Photos courtesy of:

Aconcagua via GNU Free Documentation License 

Thue via GNU Free Documentation License 

Alinja via GNU Free Documentation License