black currants

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

Black currants are edible berries of the Ribes berry shrub and are native to Asia and parts of Europe. The berries, mostly 1 cm 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 and thus you will find it being predominantly used in bakeries etc in form of syrups, juices, preserves, etc.

How to select
The berries will be roughly 1 cm in diameter, thus small in size. 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, ensure that you check the manufacturing date, expiry date and the packaging (for sealing) before purchasing.

Culinary Uses
· It is primarily juiced and used in culinary products like jams, jellies, preserves, syrups, cordials, confectionary, dietary supplements etc.
· They are also used to prepare black currant oils, black currant butter, extracts etc.
· Black currant cordial is found 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 (drink which is served before the meal to induce appetite) Crème de Cassis.
· Vodka can also be infused with balck currant berries to make a astringent and sharp flavoured drink.
· Other than the above uses, blackcurrants are used in cooking because their astringent nature which brings out flavour in savoury and sweet sauces that go well with meats, desert crepes, pancakes etc.
· Use black currant puree in preparation of flavoured black currant mousses, souffles 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.
· If bored of the daily same old brewed tea, Use black currant it to flavour teas for a different and unique flavour.
· It is also used in many other drinks which are popular in German and Dutch cuisine.
· Traditional Balsamic Vinegar and Black Currant flavor are blended resulting in a new and unique flavour which can be used in marinades for vegetables and meats, or as dressing in salads etc.

How to store
Fresh black currants should be packed in freeze bags/ zip lock bags and then stored in the refrigerator. They can also be frozen and stored for a longer duration. Black currants which are in syrup, jam, and preserve form are also best stored under refrigerated conditions.

Health Benefits
· Black currants are high in Vitamin C and Vitamin B5.
· They have good levels of nutrients like potassium, phosphorus and iron.
· It has anti oxidant and anti inflammatory properties.
· They contain several rare nutrients like Omega 6 essential Fatty acids and Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors which may help in therapies to combat depression.
· Black currants, in a broader picture, helps reduce effects of arthritis and may help avoid cancer.

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