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Also Known as
Blackcurrants, Ribes Nigrum, Black Ribes, French Cassis
Native to Asia and parts of Europe, black currants are edible berries of the Ribes berry shrub. The berries, mostly a centimetre in diameter, are usually purplish in colour with a shiny skin, and contain several seeds.
They are commonly used as a flavouring agent in the culinary industry. It is used extensively in the bakery industry, in the form of syrups, juices, preserves, etc.
How to select
• Look for uniformly sized berries, around a centimetre in diameter.
• Ensure that the skin is free from cuts, blemishes and any unwanted spots.
• If purchasing in processed form, i.e. syrups, jams, marmalades, juices etc., check the manufacturing date, expiry date and the seal of the package.
• A pulpy juice of the berry is used to make jams, jellies, preserves, syrups, cordials, confectionary etc.
• Black currant puree is used in the preparation of mousses, soufflés and cheesecakes.
• Bakeries use black currants widely to flavour and fill pies, muffins, fruit cakes etc.
• Black currants, fresh and in syrup form are readily used in preparation of fruit flavoured ice creams.
• It is also used in many other drinks which are popular in German and Dutch cuisine.
• Black currant cordial is used commonly in pubs. In UK, it is combined with cider to make a popular drink called "Cider and Black". Black currant juice can be added to beer to enhance the flavour of beer.
• Kir is a very popular wine made with black currant syrup and white wine. When Kir is combined with champagne, it is called Kir Royale.
• Crushed black currants are a primary ingredient in the popular aperitif, Crème de Cassis, a drink which is served before a meal to induce appetite.
• Vodka can also be infused with black currant berries to make an astringent and sharp flavoured drink.
How to store
• Fresh black currants should be packed in freezer bags/ Ziploc bags and then stored in the refrigerator.
• They can also be frozen and stored for a longer duration.
• Black currants in syrup, jam and preserve form are also best stored under refrigerated conditions.
• Black currants have good levels of nutrients like potassium, phosphorus and B-vitamins.
• Being high in vitamins A and C, the berry has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
• It contains several rare nutrients like Omega 6 fatty acids and Monoamine Oxidase inhibitors, which may help combat depression.
• A good source of iron, it helps in increasing haemoglobin and red blood cell (RBC) count.