From Garden to Plate: Blackcurrants

Blackcurrants are relatively easy to grow.

They tolerate a wide range of soil conditions, but prefer well-drained, moisture-retentive conditions.

Blackcurrants prefer full sun, but will tolerate light shade.

You will see blackcurrants for sale in two forms: bare-root stock (as the name suggested, the roots are exposed when you purchase these plants) or in containers. Bare-root plants should be planted from late autumn; containerised plants can be planted at any time of year, as long as the soil is not too wet.

A few weeks before planting, clear the soil of all perennial weeds and add generous amount of well-rotted manure.

Dig a hole at least twice the diameter of the root ball, and spread the roots out when planting. Set each plant at least 6cm (2.25in) deeper than it was previously.

Deep planting encourages young, vigorous shoots to develop from the base. Mix the soil from the hole with well-rotted organic manure and backfill the hole. Firm it in well before watering.

If growing in a container, choose one that is 45-50cm in diameter. When planting, place some crocks (small pieces of broken concrete, clay pots, or polystyrene) in the bottom of the containers to retain moisture. Use a good-quality compost, or multi-purpose compost mixed with one-third by volume of grit.

Prune blackcurrants when dormant – from late autumn to late winter. Fruit forms on young wood, so when pruning aim to remove older wood, leaving the young shoots.

Up to and including the fourth year after planting, remove weak, wispy shoots, retaining a basic structure of six to 10 healthy shoots. After year four, cut out about one-third of the older wood at the base, using a pair of loppers or a pruning saw. This will encourage and make room for younger, healthy wood. Also remove weak shoots and low ones leaning towards the ground.

It is best to harvest blackcurrants one by ones they tend to ripen at different rates, depending on where on the branch they are. Our blackcurrants are at the moment heavy with fruit and the season couldn’t be better and i am struggling a bit to find new and interesting ways to use our blackcurrant stash with recipes that the kids will enjoy, apart from jam and cordial or course. Here are some nice fresh idea that i have found of how you can shape up those tasty berries, while getting the kids involved in a sticky mess of glory! black currant drizzle cake copy Blackcurrant and Lemon Drizzle Cake Ingredients:

For the cake

  • 225 g butter, softened
  • 225 g caster sugar
  • 275 g self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 tbsp milk
  • 2 lemons, grated zest only
  • 300g Blackcurrants

For the topping

  • 175 g granulated sugar
  • 2 lemons, juice only

Method:

  1. Cut out a rectangle of greaseproof paper to fit the base and sides of a 30 x 23 x 4 cm tray bake or roasting tin. Grease the tin with either some oil or butter and line with the paper, pushing it into each of the corners of the tin.
  1. Preheat your oven to 180C degree, 160C for fan assisted.
  1. Get your children to measure the ingredients for the cake into a large bowl, beat well for approximately 2 minutes or until fully combined.
  1. Add the blackcurrants and give the kids turns of stirring the mix again gently.
  1. Tip the mixture into the prepared tin and have the kids scrap the sides so you get all the batter out of the bowl. Level the top carefully with the back of a spatula.
  2. Place in the middle of your oven for about 35-40 minutes, or until the cake springs back when lightly pressed in the middle and is beginning to come away from the sides of the tin.
  3. Leave to cool in the tin for about 5 minutes, lift it out of the tin inside its greaseproof paper lining. Carefully remove the paper, put the cake onto your wire rack with a tray or large plate underneath.
  4. For the topping, mix the sugar and the lemon juice in a small bowl and stir for a runny consistency. Spoon the mixture over the cake while still warm. Leave to cool completely and cut into squares, store in an airtight container.

Some other ideas: Crunchy_Meringue_and_Steeped_Blackcurrants-Black Currant Pavlova

Summer Berry JamSummer Berry Jam

black currant cheesecake Black Currant and Rosemary Cheese Cake 

Chocolate-torte-with-blackcurrant-ginger-compote Chocolate and Blackcurrant Torte

What is your favourite blackcurrant food and/or recipe ? Feel free to share in comment.

Credit: Recipe Junkie, Lovefood, BBC Good Food, Blackcurrant Foundation,

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