Ribes nigrum

Ribes nigrum

Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Divisio: Magnoliophyta
Classis: Magnoliopsida
Ordo: Saxifragales
Familia: Grossulariaceae
Subgenus: Ribes subg. Ribes
Sectio: Ribes sect. Botrycarpum
Species: Ribes nigrum
Varieties: R. n. var. sibiricum


Ribes nigrum L.


* Species Plantarum 1:201. 1753
* USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN) [Online Database]. [1]

Vernacular names
Deutsch: Schwarze Johannisbeere
Ελληνικά: Φραγκοστάφυλα μαύρα
English: Blackcurrant
Español: Grosellero negro
‪Norsk (bokmål)‬: Solbær
Svenska: Svarta vinbär


Ribes nigrum, or Blackcurrant (cassis, cassissier, gadellier noir and groseillier noir - French;[1] Schwarze Johannisbeere - German) is a species of Ribes berry native to central and northern Europe and northern Asia.
It is a small shrub growing to 1–2 m tall. The leaves are alternate, simple, 3–5 cm long and broad, and palmately lobed with five lobes, with a serrated margin. The flowers are 4–6 mm diameter, with five reddish-green to brownish petals; they are produced in racemes 5–10 cm long.

When not in fruit, the plant looks similar to the redcurrant shrub, distinguished by a strong fragrance from leaves and stems. The fruit is an edible berry 1 cm diameter, very dark purple in color, almost black, with a glossy skin and a persistent calyx at the apex, and containing several seeds dense in nutrients. An established bush can produce up to 5 kilos of berries during summer.

Plants from Asia are sometimes distinguished as a separate variety Ribes nigrum var. sibiricum, or even as a distinct species Ribes cyathiforme.

There are many cultivars of blackcurrant, including: Amos Black, Ben Alder, Ben Avon, Ben Connan, Ben Dorain, Ben Gairn, Ben Hope, Ben Lomond, Ben Loyal, Ben More, Ben Sarek, Ben Tirran, Big Ben, Boskoop Giant, Cotswold Cross and Wellington XXX.

New varieties are being developed continuously to improve frost tolerance, disease resistance, machine harvesting, fruit quality, nutritional content and fruit flavor.[2]

United Kingdom

During World War II, most fruits rich in vitamin C, such as oranges, became almost impossible to obtain in the United Kingdom. Since blackcurrant berries are a rich source of vitamin C and blackcurrant plants are suitable for growing in the UK climate, blackcurrant cultivation was encouraged by the British government. Soon, the yield of the nation's crop increased significantly. From 1942 on, almost the entire British blackcurrant crop was made into blackcurrant syrup (or cordial) and distributed to the nation's children free, giving rise to the lasting popularity of blackcurrant flavorings in Britain.

United States

Blackcurrants were once popular in the United States as well, but became rare in the 20th century after currant farming was banned in the early 1900s when blackcurrants, as a vector of white pine blister rust, were considered a threat to the U.S. logging industry.[3] The federal ban on growing currants was shifted to jurisdiction of individual states in 1966, and was lifted in New York State in 2003 through the efforts of horticulturist Greg Quinn. As a result, currant growing is making a comeback in New York, Vermont, Connecticut and Oregon.[4][5] However, several statewide bans still exist including Maine[6], Massachusetts[citation needed] and New Hampshire.[7]

Since the American federal ban ceased currant production nationally for nearly a century, the fruit remains largely unknown in the United States and has yet to regain its previous popularity to levels enjoyed in Europe or New Zealand. Owing to its unique flavor and richness in polyphenols, dietary fiber and essential nutrients, awareness and popularity of blackcurrant is once again growing, with a number of consumer products entering the market.

Nutrients and phytochemicals
The fruit has an extraordinarily high vitamin C content (302% of the Daily Value per 100 g, table), good levels of potassium, phosphorus, iron and vitamin B5, and a broad range of other essential nutrients (nutrient table, right).

Other phytochemicals in the fruit (polyphenols/anthocyanins) have been demonstrated in laboratory experiments with potential to inhibit inflammation mechanisms suspected to be at the origin of heart disease, cancer, microbial infections or neurological disorders like Alzheimer's disease.[8][9] Major anthocyanins in blackcurrant pomace are delphinidin-3-O-glucoside, delphinidin-3-O-rutinoside, cyanidin-3-O-glucoside, and cyanidin-3-O-rutinoside[10] which are retained in the juice concentrate among other yet unidentified polyphenols.[11][12]

Blackcurrant seed oil is also rich in many nutrients, especially vitamin E and several unsaturated fatty acids including alpha-linolenic acid and gamma-linolenic acid.[13]

Culinary uses

In the UK, blackcurrant cordial is often mixed with cider to make a drink called Cider & Black available at pubs. Adding a small amount of blackcurrant juice to Guinness is preferred by some to heighten the taste of the popular beer. Macerated blackcurrants are also the primary ingredient in the apéritif crème de cassis. Japan imports $3.6 million in New Zealand blackcurrants for uses as dietary supplements, snacks, functional food products and as quick-frozen (IQF) produce for culinary production as jams, jellies or preserves.[14] In Russia, blackcurrant leaves are often used for flavoring tea. Sweetened vodka may also be infused with blackcurrant leaves or berries, making a deep yellowish-green beverage with a sharp flavor and astringent taste. A universally sold drink Ribena is a juice drink made from blackcurrants and takes its name as a pun from "Ribes".


Blackcurrant berries have a distinctive sweet and sharp taste popular in jam, juice, ice cream, and liqueur (see Ribena). They are a common ingredient of Rote Grütze, a popular kissel-like dessert in North German cuisine and Danish cuisine. In the UK, Europe and Commonwealth countries, some types of confectionery include a blackcurrant flavor, and in Belgium and the Netherlands, cassis is a flavored currant soft drink. In the United States, Blackcurrant 'flavor' is rather rare in candies and jellies compared to UK candies. In the United States Grape flavor, is often used in brands of candy where blackcurrant would appear in Europe. Blackcurrant syrup mixed with white wine is called Kir or Kir Royale when mixed with Champagne.

In Cuisine

Other than being juiced and used in jellies, syrups, and cordials, blackcurrants are used in cooking because their astringency creates flavor in many sauces, meat dishes and desserts. It was once thought that currants needed to be "topped and tailed" (the stalk and flower-remnants removed) before cooking.[citation needed]

However, this is not the case, as these parts are easily assimilated during the cooking process. If one prefers, the whole blackcurrant stem with fruit can be frozen, then shaken vigorously. The tops and tails are broken off and fruit can be separated easily.

Notes & References

1. ^ a b "Synonymy - Ribes nigrum". Northern Ontario Plant Database. http://www.northernontarioflora.ca/chklst.cfm?speciesid=1003093. Retrieved November 11, 2009.
2. ^ "Edible Plants". Edible Plants. http://www.edible-plants.com/blackcurrants.html. Retrieved 2009-12-06.
3. ^ "US Agricultural Research Service Note". Ars.usda.gov. http://www.ars.usda.gov/research/publications/Publications.htm?seq_no_115=174038. Retrieved 2009-12-06.
4. ^ Foderaro, Lisa W. (2003-10-16). "New York Times". New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9A0CE3D7163EF935A25753C1A9659C8B63. Retrieved 2009-12-06.
5. ^ "USDA Plant profile for Ribes nigrum L., European black currant". Plants.usda.gov. http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=RINI. Retrieved 2009-12-06.
6. ^ "Chapter 1: White Pine Blister, Pine Blister Rust, Quarantine on Currant and Gooseberry Bushes.". Department of Conservation, Bureau of Forestry, State of Maine. http://www.maine.gov/doc/mfs/WPBRrule.htm. Retrieved 2009-12-18.
7. ^ "NH RSA 227-K, White Pine Blister Rust Control Areas". Gencourt.state.nh.us. 1996-01-01. http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/XIX-A/227-K/227-K-6.htm. Retrieved 2009-12-06.
8. ^ Heinonen, M (2007). "Antioxidant activity and antimicrobial effect of berry phenolics--a Finnish perspective". Molecular nutrition & food research 51 (6): 684–91. doi:10.1002/mnfr.200700006. PMID 17492800.
9. ^ Seeram, NP (2008). "Berry fruits: compositional elements, biochemical activities, and the impact of their intake on human health, performance, and disease". Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 56 (3): 627–9. doi:10.1021/jf071988k. PMID 18211023.
10. ^ Kapasakalidis, PG; Rastall; Gordon (2006). "Extraction of polyphenols from processed black currant (Ribes nigrum L.) residues". Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 54 (11): 4016–21. doi:10.1021/jf052999l. PMID 16719528.
11. ^ Mcdougall, GJ; Gordon; Brennan; Stewart (2005). "Anthocyanin-flavanol condensation products from black currant (Ribes nigrum L.)". Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 53 (20): 7878–85. doi:10.1021/jf0512095. PMID 16190645.
12. ^ Nielsen, IL; Haren; Magnussen; Dragsted; Rasmussen (2003). "Quantification of anthocyanins in commercial black currant juices by simple high-performance liquid chromatography. Investigation of their pH stability and antioxidative potency". Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 51 (20): 5861–6. doi:10.1021/jf034004+. PMID 13129285.
13. ^ Traitler, H; Winter; Richli; Ingenbleek (1984). "Characterization of gamma-linolenic acid in Ribes seed". Lipids 19 (12): 923–8. PMID 6098796.
14. ^ "New Nutrition Business, Japan makes a superfruit out of the humble blackcurrant, 2006" (PDF). http://www.blackcurrant.co.nz/Downloads/BLACKCURRANT%20NNB1.pdf. Retrieved 2009-12-06.

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