The fig tree in our garden may be stubborn at producing edible fruit but one thing that never fails to deliver is our blackcurrant bush. I'm pretty fond of this particular plant too as I've had it for almost 25 years. Friends gave it to me when I moved into my first house in Devon in 1992 and when I moved down to Cornwall 12 years ago, although I couldn't dig up the large bush, I took cuttings and planted them in our garden. It is now taller than Phil and each year produces branches that are positively groaning under the weight of blackcurrants. Even the local blackbirds can't make a dent in the supplies. Bees, butterflies and hover flies also seem to enjoy hanging out with it too!
Blackcurrants are powerhouses of nutrition. For a start there is the obvious one; vitamin C. 100g of blackcurrants contain 300% of the recommended daily allowance so chuck a few in a smoothie and you are well on your way with that one. The same amount also contains 20% RDA of your iron too. As vitamin C helps absorb iron it will also boost the intake of your iron from other sources too.
Blackcurrants have a great amount of health boosting antioxidant value, indeed one of the highest of the fruits after elderberries and cranberries. Vitamin C is a contributing antioxidant here but blackcurrants also contain others such as vitamin A and anthocyanins. In fact blackcurrants contain 6 to 8 times the concentration of antioxidants than the much shouted about blueberries. Antioxidants help protect cells and other structures in the body from free radicals, so they can guard against various cancers and heart disease.
Add to this a high amount of calcium, good amounts of B vitamins (including the potentially cancer fighting B17) and a good quantity of omega 3 and the little blackcurrant suddenly becomes an extremely powerful but overlooked fruit. I knew blackcurrants were good for you but I have to say that even I was surprised by the amount of nutritional benefits I discovered just with a quick search on-line. Alzheimer's, cancer, heart disease, eye strain, menopause, rheumatoid arthritis were, among others, all mentioned as conditions that could potentially be protected against with the nutritional benefits of blackcurrants. Take a look yourself and, apart from the fact that they taste pretty good, perhaps you too will consider growing your own blackcurrants? Sadly for some reason it seems they are difficult to come by in the shops.
So you may ask what we do with all those blackcurrants? I've made everything from blackcurrant muffins, to my very own Ribena and a sauce for a raw cheesecake. I do also lock in that nutrition by freezing a load so that in the depths of winter I can still enjoy a handful in a smoothie (a chocolate based one with blackcurrants is really nice!).
We have recently however discovered a shop bought product from Alpro that perfectly marries the tartness of blackcurrants with a smooth creamy strained yoghurt alternative. Alpro Go On Blackcurrant was an instant hit with us with the added benefit of providing a good amount of plant protein along the way too. Other useful nutrients included are B12, calcium and vitamin D.
In addition to the blackcurrant, the Go On range also includes passionfruit and mango flavours, of which we are yet to try but no doubt will also impress. So if you fancy a shop bought healthy treat, we recommend looking out for the Go On range in the shops now.
And don't forget, if you have space, consider planting a blackcurrant bush. If our bush is anything to go by, it will reward you with years and years of tasty nutrition as well as become a welcome addition to the garden for the birds, bees, and insects.