The Redcurrant is native to parts of Western Europe. The Whitecurrant is a cultivar
of the Redcurrant and is less sour and pale yellow in colour. It is less attractive
to birds as they assume that it is not ripe. The pinkcurrant is another cultivar.
This is a much overlooked berry, which makes the most sumptuous jelly, and ice cream.
It is easy and trouble free to grow, easy to pick, and yet is surprisingly rare on
allotments or even to buy the fruit in shops. Two fully grown plants should produce
enough fruit for most families. If you choose one early fruiting variety and one
late fruiting variety, you can have ripe fruit available from July to October.
It is easy to grow anywhere in the UK, grows in most soils and can even cope with
some shade. Remember that it is a big plant needing 1.5 m x 1.5 m by 2 m high space.
Place the plant at the same depth as it was growing previously, firm in well with
your boots and keep well watered for the first year. Feed the plant with a slow release
fertilizer. Some of the older varieties seem to shed their leaves when the berries
are left on the bush to fully ripen, especially in dry conditions. There is no need
to panic if this happens to your plant, as it is probably diverting all it’s energy
to ripen the fruit. It seems to have no effect on the following year’s crop. The
bushes are self fertile, and will continue fruiting well for many years with very
Pick the fruit when it is almost starting to wrinkle and is as sweet as it is possible
to get it. Even at it’s best that will not be very sweet! Lift up the tips of the
branches with one hand and pick off the “strigs” or strings of berries with the other
hand. You should be able to easily pick up to 10 lbs of fruit in an hour. There is
no need to take off the individual berries, as you will probably be simmering the
stalks and berries together when you are making jelly. You will be able to separate
out the stalks, seeds and skins at the same time by using a “jelly bag”. See jam
Berries can be used fresh for Summer puddings or decoration. They will store in a
fridge for a few days.
For long term storage, it is best to crush the berries and simmer the fruit for 10
mins, before straining through a jelly bag. Then the juice can be frozen or bottled,
for later use in fresh fruit jellies. Alternatively, use the juice to make your own
classic conserve of Red Currant jelly, completely different from the watered down
shop bought version.
Pests and diseases. It is the usual suspects of birds, wasps and the Gooseberry caterpillar
again. You really have to net against the birds, as you want the fruit to be fully
ripe, almost starting to wrinkle, and get as sweet as possible. Trap the wasps, and
spray against the Gooseberry Caterpillar if they are really bad.
Currant Blister Aphid This is a common pest of red, white and black currants. While
it looks bad, it has little effect on the size of the crop and it is not necessary
to treat it.
Pruning. It is a matter of removing weak or crossing branches, and those that will
reach the ground when they are heavily laden with fruit. Every two years, once the
leaves have fallen and you can see what you are doing, prune out some of the oldest
wood from the base of the plant.
Red and white currants are frequently grown as cordons, when they will reach 2m or
more in height. The main stems are allowed to grow with the side stems kept short.
Again, once the leaves have fallen and you can see what you are doing, prune out
some of the oldest wood from the base of the plant.
Suggested varieties of Red, Pink and White Currants.
Junifer. This early season Redcurrant is claimed to be a very heavy yielding variety,
cropping on both one and two year old wood.
Red Lake. This mid-season variety has the largest crop according to independent tests.
Redpoll. This is a late season, heavy cropping variety with fewer pips.
Rovada. This Redcurrant is a heavy yielding and very late fruiting variety.
Blanka. This Whitecurrant is a heavy yielding and mid-season variety.
Gloire de Sablon. An old french variety producing pink, translucent berries. Taste
was milder than red currants.
REDCURRANT (Ribes rubrum) and Whitecurrant & Pinkcurrant