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By Catherine Dougherty
The latest trend in horticultural circles is to grow edible and healthy foods, and the currant is experiencing a resurgence in popularity. In 1918, a blight called pine blister rust was introduced to the landscape and it required both a pine and a currant to complete its life cycle. It totally decimated many pine forests, which were the major source of lumber for building, causing the currant to be banned in many eastern states. Fortunately, new species are resistant to the rust, making the currant a must-have addition to the garden. The black currant is still to be found here in abundance as they were important to early settlers for their hardiness and nutritional value.
The currant blooms in early spring with bright yellow, scarlet centered little flowers that dance along the branches before becoming fruit. The black currant is unfussy about soil conditions, likes early sun, and is grateful for dappled shade in the afternoon. The small black fruit is an absolute plethora of health benefits and worthy cultivation for the vitamin C content alone, which is four times the recommended daily dosage.
Anyone acquainted with black currants knows better than to eat while picking as the fruit is dreadfully tart. It is never eaten raw, but rather must be made into jams, jellies or sauces where it is sweetened to a distinctive delicious flavor. Black currant juice is often made into liqueurs and cordials to be used medicinally during winter months for the wonderful health benefits.
*All varieties of currants are rich in bioflavonoids that are thought to boost the antioxidant effect of vitamin C. They also help inhibit the growth of cancer and may possibly prevent other diseases.
*Black currant has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, they have the similar effect as of ibuprofen or aspirin.
*A powder made from dried black currant skin is used to treat dysentery, especially that caused by E-coli, a common cause of bacterial stomach ailments.
*Black currant juice, tea and syrup is used to ease the inflammation of a sore throat.
*Black currants help stimulate the digestive processes.
*Black currant seeds are rich in both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. It is therefore beneficial in maintaining cardiovascular health and helps improve your skin and hair texture.
The blessings provided by nature spring forth naturally and in this case, in a lovely package that arrives sweetly in the earliest days of spring with the promise of health. Try to add some currants to your diet this year!