We are just picking the very last of the blackcurrants in our garden; well at least the ones that either the recent wind or the birds haven't already claimed. Those that we don't use immediately, I freeze and use handful by handful in smoothies throughout the winter months. The bright, bold flavour of blackcurrants not only cheers up the gloomiest and darkest of winter mornings but also packs a punch nutritionally.
I work in a university and this coming week is Freshers Week. Avoiding the usual bout of Freshers Flu has been a recent and indeed an annual conversation amongst my colleagues (although I am thankfully usually spared of it myself), along with the usual stresses brought on by the beginning of the new academic year . Blackcurrants are antiviral, protecting against flu, as well as their leaves having properties for alleviating inflammatory sore throats and lowering blood pressure (handy for the stress!). Perhaps I should be making blackcurrant based smoothies and blackcurrant leaf tea for my colleagues over the coming weeks?
Blackcurrants have many more health benefits though beyond just the vitamin C packed, antioxidant, and antiviral properties. It really is the UK's original superfood, and because it seems blackcurrants don't pop up for sale in shops that much, an overlooked one at that. The nutritional properties of blackcurrants can it seems help guard against such things as age related vision issues, urinary tract infections, age and brain function diseases such as Alzheimers, Parkinsons and Dementia, cardiovascular disease, digestive disorders, and even have some anti-tumour properties against some cancers. The Blackcurrant Foundation has a great resource page detailing some of these health benefits.
I've written about blackcurrants a fair amount over the years and you can find blackcurrant recipe ideas on our blog including blackcurrant muffins, my own 'homemade ribena' and a sauce for a raw cheesecake. There is nothing simpler though than bunging a handful in a smoothie (direct from the freezer in the winter). If however, you cannot find them in the shops or your bush in the garden is now devoid of fruit, you could always try making a cup of tea from the leaves (which should be on the bushes for a little longer) to ward off or ease that autumnal sore throat.
Blackcurrant Leaf Tea Infusion
Place washed and chopped leaves in a cafetiere or glass bowl and pour over freshly boiled water (about 30g leaves to 500ml of water). Cover and leave to stand for 5-10 minutes. The water should darken as it is infused with the leaves. Strain and drink.
Enjoy and stay healthy!