black currants

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Also Known as
Blackcurrants, Ribes Nigrum, Black Ribes, French Cassis

Description
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.

Culinary Uses
• 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.

Health Benefits
• 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.




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