The black current plant, scientifically known as Ribes Nigrum, is a deciduous shrub that is easy to grow. You only need to avoid heavy clay or acidic soil. Typical sandy loam soil of average quality will support growth of the black currant shrub, which can grow as high as 6 feet. Extra nitrogen is suggested to help it grow to its full potential.
Justin planted the black currants at his place because he ran out of sunny areas and needed a plant that can grow in semi-shaded areas - which the black currant does. It only takes one year for the plant to start bearing fruit. The berries are slightly tart and have a pungent or musky aroma. The berries are typically used in making juice, jellies and jams. The berries are known to be quite healthy. Research suggests that they might help lower cholesterol, lessen muscle fatigue, help with open angle glaucoma, help relieve joint pain related to rheumatoid arthritis, and improve circulation.
Wednesday we enjoyed a cherry and black currant jam. Justin did not get enough currants to make exclusively black currant jam so he mixed it with Nanking cherries leftover from earlier in the season.
- Enough currants and cherries to make approximately 8 cups of juice/berry mash
- 5 cups sugar
- 2 packets of pectin
- 1 cup splenda (to cut down on the sugar a bit, but you could use 1 more cup of sugar)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Mash the black currants-Juice the cherries (Justin mashed them through a stainless steel fruit strainer)
- Optional, warm the leftover cherry skins and pits in a pot on the stove - medium heat, blend the mixture lightly, and then run through the strainer again to get more of the cherry "material" into the mixture.
- Discard the pits.
- Mix the currant and cherry juices/mash together and bring to a low boil.
- Justin cooked his down slowly for about 30 minutes because he has trouble with runny jam.
- Add pectin and lemon juice and bring to a rolling boil for one minute.
- Turn down the heat and mix in the sugar/sweetener
- Bring to a rolling boil again for 1 minute
- Ladle hot liquid into canning jars
- Process in a boiling water canner for 5 to 10 minutes.