Did you know red currants bloom as the same time as the cherries?
But unlike the billowy dreamy snowy cherry blossoms, the flowers of red currant are rather inconspicuous. One hardly notices them – especially with the explosion of greens and colors in the garden around the shrubs.
Still. As insignificant, small and greenish as they are, the bees and wasps notice them, and make a refueling stop.
I know of the brilliant bounty the red currants will yield come June – following the sour cherries and at the same time as the sweet cherries.
I have said my goodbye to fresh sour cherries for this year. I have frozen and made jam with a bucket of them – and of course enjoyed quite a few in cobblers and eaten them “au naturel”. But for the cook with a liking for vermilion sweet/tart fruits, red currants provide even more of a flavor burst. In my Northern Piedmont garden, red currants mature right after the sour cherries – sometimes overlapping them slightly. A red currant bush bears faster than a cherry tree– one can have a nice little harvest three years after rooting cuttings (very easy to do to!), although it’ll start to be respectable in year 4; they are more manageable in a kitchen garden than a cherry tree which takes a bit of room and is more appropriate for the orchard. Surprisingly, the birds seem to leave them alone, and at least for now, the bear also ignores them – unlike the cherries for which he makes special trips down the hill, devouring other things (like bluebird eggs) on his way to his feast.
Currants need a cold dormancy period and don’t enjoy too muggy a summer, so I give them shade in the afternoon. Besides watering well the first year to ensure good root establishment, and pruning the oldest branches (4+ years) occasionally, they are pretty care free. Also self-fertile, but that’s a moot point because one currant bush is simply not enough. Besides, delicious when eaten out of hands, or tossed with a little sugar and let to rest for 1 hour to draw out the juice, currants makes a famously delicious jelly – and a fabulously easy one. Read more for the “Fabulously Easy Red Currant Jelly” recipe. Read more