Red Currants – Ribes rubrum

Red Currants – Ribes rubrum – have a distinct flavour (that is hard to describe) and a luminous colour that is hard to match and the texture is pretty good too when ripe as they are little exploding capsules of sweet and sour.

They are fairly easy to grow when you get the right climate with a good cool winter and a small dry period in early spring to stop any fungal issues while they flower. They take a fairly long time to develop the fruits after flowering but are prolific if they all stay on the bush.

They are usually ready to harvest in the few weeks before Christmas – early to mid summer.

They have a more profuse cluster of fruit than Black Currants but I have found they usually also produce more than the White Currant bushes. (Even though White Currants are basically a variant of the Red Currant species)

Red Currants bushes don’t have the strong odour that the Black Currant growth has (leaves and stems) and Red Currants (and White Currants) do need to be netted as they ripen while birds seem to leave the Black Currants alone completely.

They are not heavy feeders and seem to grow on just about any soil, but seem do better on a more sandy soil with lots of humus and mulch added.

The usual plan is to cut out about one third of the old growth on the bush each year at the end of summer and It’s worth cutting alternately from the centre of the bush and then the outside to help balance the growth out. The cuttings are then easy to strike by pushing them into some soil in a  deep pot. They will likely sport some growth as they move into autumn and then taper off as they drop their leaves for winter. The roots develop best as you move out of winter again so you just keep the water down in mid winter but make sure they don’t dry out completely.

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In Australia there is a traditional food market in currants that are used for cooking that are basically tiny dried black Grapes. They taste like small dried black grapes… and unlike Black, Red or White Currants of the Ribes genus.