1 Look at this beautiful bowl of red currants, Ribes rubrum. These currants were picked early this morning. I've been growing currants for many years - they're great for jams, jellies, tarts and pies, and they're high in vitamin-C, and are a good source of calcium and iron.
2 Here at my farm, the currant bushes are located outside the front entrance of my main greenhouse.
3 I grow red, black and white currants. Red currants can range from deep red to pink to almost yellow in color.
4 The currant bushes have been very prolific this season, so the fruits need to be picked quickly before they drop to the ground, or get snatched up by the birds. These red currant bushes are very dependable and vigorous as growers.
5 The fruits grow in clusters called racemes, and are very easy to pick. The best time to harvest red currants is when the fruits are firm and juicy.
6 After each batch of currants is picked, it's given to my housekeeper, Laura, who gently takes each fruit off its long-stem.
7 When grown, red currants should be trained as open-centered bushes, with enough room to spread, so light and air can flow freely around the branches.
8 The varieties of red currants that I grow include 'Redstart' and 'Jonkheer Van Tets' - both produce very bright, red fruits.
9 The English word "currant" has been used to describe this fruit since the 16th century. It was taken from the fruit's resemblance to the dried currants of Greece, which are raisins made from a small seedless grape.
10 'Jonkheer Van Tets' is a red currant variety from Holland. It's known for its highly rated flavor and fruit size.
11 The 'Jonkheer Van Tets' bush is hardy, upright and great for easy-picking - look how abundant our harvest is this year!
12 This is our summer intern, Nicole Polemeni-Hegarty. She will be a berry picking expert by the end of the week!
13 Black currant, Ribes nigrum, is a woody shrub grown for its piquant berries. You can't miss them in the garden- they are very aromatic.
14 The best time to pick black currants is when they are dry and ripe. The varieties of black currants in my garden include 'Ben Sarek' and 'Ben Lomond.'
15 Black currants are the most nutrient-rich of the currants. They are high in vitamins A, C, B1, B5, B6, phytochemicals and antioxidants. They are also high in minerals, such as iron, copper, calcium and phosphorous. They can be eaten raw, but are usually cooked in a variety of sweet and savory dishes.
16 Black currants are also used in various alcoholic mixtures, such as the French liqueur, creme de cassis.
17 When ripe, black currants are dark purple in color, with glossy skins. An established bush can produce three to 10-pounds of fruit each year.
18 White currants, 'Blanka', are a sub-cultivar of the red currant. White currant berries are translucent with warm white tones and a slight pink blush color.
19 These white currants add flavor and texture to sauces, liquors, jams, jellies and syrups. They can also be frozen and saved for use at a later time. I often freeze my berries. The best way to do this is to first spread them out onto flat baking sheets in single layers. Once they are frozen solid, move them to freezer bags or containers and then back into the freezer. Doing this will prevent the berries from getting crushed.
20 White currants are the sweetest of the three currant colors - sweet, and tart with floral undertones. Although the fruits are the primary source of food from the plant, the leaves and tender, young shoots are also edible.
21 Fully set five-inch, delicate stems called strigs become pendulous chains of small berries. Berries of white, pink, and red currants are translucent, while black currants are matte purple-brown.
22 'Pink Champagne' currants are pendant clusters of fruits the color of champagne blushed with pink. These currants are less tart than the red, and among the sweetest of all currants.
23 Although they may be eaten ripe off the shrub, pink currants are more often harvested for use in jams, jellies, and pies.
24 Currants are still largely unknown here in the United States. They are well-loved in many other countries, and here in the US, they are slowly gaining popularity, especially because of its high antioxidant content. They are now more prevalent at local farms and home gardens.
25 Before heading off to a meeting, I posed with two of our interns, Nicole and Casey - they got a good head start on the berry picking.