July 13, 2008

Come see what I picked this weekend at my farm

July is a busy time for berries at the farm.  We’ve been picking
raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, blueberries, and of course,
currants.  My fondness for currants goes right back to my childhood
when I would carefully harvest the jewel-like berries from the bushes
that my father planted in one corner of our large back yard.  Later, in
the kitchen, after carefully removing the stems, I would assist my
mother, who always put up jars and jars of delicious, clear, ruby red
jelly.  Of course, the real reward was spreading the finished product
on some soft, homemade bread.  Because I like variety, in addition to
red currants, I grow white and black currants, as well.  Please read on
to learn how they differ from one another.

Ribes rubrum, or red currant, is really a member of the gooseberry
family. I have been growing currants and gooseberries for a long time
because I love their flavor, their tartness, and their usefulness. I've
always likened red currants to cabochon rubies and would happily wear a
strand of them if I were not worried that one would pop and stain my
clothing! Red currants are used in jams and jellies, tarts and
meringues, and candied as a garnish. They also have many medicinal
uses, such as fever reducing, sweat inducing, menstrual flow inducing,
blood cleansing, diuretic, laxative, and astringent purposes. They grow
on bushes 24-36 inches tall, and every bush is really very productive
and fast.


On the bush or off, the fruits are glowing red and beautiful - rich in
vitamin C, fiber, and fruit acid.  The jelly made from the juice of the
red currant is especially delicious and very clear and red.


Irma, my housekeeper, has a favorite Mexican drink made from red
currants - equal parts water and red currants are pureed in a blender.


The mixture is thick and frothy.  Irma strains the juice to remove skins and seeds.


The juice is sweetened to taste with sugar.  Irma likes it a little
tart.  Add a generous quantity of ice.  It's such a pretty color!


This is Irma about to imbibe a refreshing and healthy red currant beverage!


White currants are a cultivar of the red currant and the fruit is less
sour - I think they are a really rare basis for an extra special
jelly!  This is how I like to freeze the berries - spread them on a
baking sheet and place in the freezer - when frozen solid, transfer
berries into plastic containers or zip lock bags and store in the



White currants - not a separate species - but sometimes named Ribes sativum or silvestre.


Black currants are an altogther different fruit - Ribes nigrum. The
fruit grows on a similar sized shrub, although the racemes, or berry
clusters, are not as long as red or white currants.  The fruit is
stronger tasting, very deep purple, and extremely fragrant.  The fruits
are grown primarily as the basis for syrup, often distilled into a
liqueur called cassis.  The berries are also a strong source of
antioxidants and vitamins.


Here's a good view of the black currant berries that I grow.  I use
them primarily for syrup, jelly, jam, and as the base for ice cream and
pate de fruits.


More red currants - you can see that they are a more delicate and tender soft fruit.

three bowls of some of our very very large harvest

Aren't these berries just so jewel-like and beautiful? What a reward to grow such bounty.

More of my Blogs from the farm!

Teucrium Pruning in My Herb Garden

Posted Jul 8, 2008

Cat's cradle for dahlias

Posted Jul 4, 2008

Step into my sunken garden

Posted Jun 18, 2008

The cole crops in my vegetable garden, some photos from yesterday

Posted Jun 17, 2008

Tomato Planting at the farm

Posted Jun 12, 2008