My introduction to black currants came in a Small Fruit Production class when the professor brought in a bottle of black currant juice that he had purchased at a German deli. After having a taste I knew I wanted to plant a bush or two.
Black currants (Ribes nigrum) grow on an attractive, easy to care for deciduous shrub which can be used in the landscape in sun to part shade. These shrubs grow 3 – 6' high but can easily be pruned to reduce the height or espaliered. Black currants prefer a somewhat moist but well drained soil.
Currant bushes are related to gooseberries and have a similar appearance but lack the thorns which gooseberry shrubs have. Some black currants have leaves which will turn red in the fall.
Black currant fruits are more commonly used in European countries where they are used for juice, jam, and desserts. The leaves are sometimes used in tea blends. If you have only a small amount of fruit on a young shrub you can throw a few fruits into a berry or cherry pie. Dried fruit sometimes labeled as currants are usually the dried fruit of a grape.
Areas of the U.S. with White Pine Blister Rust may prohibit the growing of currants. Check with your local extension agent for information.