Blackcurrant - Zone 3
Characteristics of the tree
The blackcurrant is one of the first fruits to harvest, ripening from mid-July. The flavour and aroma of this fruit is unmistakable, and it can be either savoured fresh, or used in a variety of ways.
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Blackcurrants are small, perfectly rounded berries, measuring about 1cm in diameter. As you would expect from their name, they are very dark purple turning black in colour as they ripen. They are one of the first fruits to harvest, ripening from mid to late July, and hanging on the bush for some time. It is a good idea to hold off harvesting them for a week or so even after they turn black, as their flavour will improve and become sweeter. The berries are firm but juicy, and taste sweet and quite acidic. However, they are most remarkable for their very particular and unique flavour and aroma, resembling really nothing else. The blackcurrant will be a surprise at the first mouthful, and will go on to seduce fine taste buds and palettes with its distinctive aroma.
While the blackcurrant can certainly be enjoyed fresh, it is more commonly used as an ingredient in various kinds of preserves and baked goods, its distinctive flavour endowing them with something special. Among the most well-known ways to take advantage of it are in jelly, syrup, cordial, wine, and even vinegar.
Along with being very rich in antioxidants, this fruit also has anti-inflammatory, anti-rheumatic and diuretic properties. In Scandinavia it is one of the most beloved berries of home gardens, and steaming hot blackcurrant juice is a traditional cold remedy.
The dried leaves are also edible and can be used to make herbal teas. In Finland, the leaves are also used to make a refreshing and sweet summer drink called ‘Louhisaaren Juoma,’ by infusing blackcurrant leaves in boiling water with lemon juice and zest, and adding sugar.
The blackcurrant is one of the very first tree species to bud out after winter. For us, the budding blackcurrant is truly the first sign of the arrival of spring. This attractive shrub is self-fertile and hardy to zone 3, tolerating temperatures as low as -42°C with no problem.
At maturity, the shrub measures up to 1.8m (6 feet) in height, with a spread of 1.5 metres (5 feet). It lends itself extremely well to being used in hedges, and 10 plants will make a hedge of 12 metres (40 feet) long.
The blackcurrant prefers soils that are rich and moist, but well-drained; and can thrive in either full sun or partial shade. It usually does not do well in too much heat, however; so in areas with very hot summers, partially shaded plantations may be preferable.
The cultivar we are currently offering is called Titania. This is a very vigorous and productive blackcurrant, giving very high yields even when planted alone without a pollinator. It is recommended to regularly prune 4 and 5-year-old shoots.
Titania produces large berries with good flavour and high acidity, and moreover has very good disease resistance to the two diseases that can attack blackcurrants: American powdery mildew and white pine blister rust. Titania was developed in the 1970s in Sweden by P. Tamas, and introduced in 1984. Its parentage is [Altajskaja Desertnaja x (Consort x Kajaanin Musta)]
Blackcurrant shrubs are fast-growing and may begin to give fruit in the first 3 years after planting. At maturity, the shrub measures up to 1.8m (6 feet) in height, with a spread of 1.5 metres (5 feet). Its lifespan is generally between 15 and 20 years.
You should note that this illustration is meant only to give a general indication of what you can expect, and the growth of your shrub might look somewhat different. The development of a tree depends on the soil type, irrigation, fertilisation and climatic conditions. What we show here is based on our observation of the growth of blackcurrant bushes in zone 4, in rather poor soil. In zone 2, growth will probably be slower, while in a rich soil it could be faster.
All our blackcurrant bushes are sold bare-root, without pots. They have been cultivated directly in our soil. Bare-root trees must be taken out of the ground and shipped during their period of dormancy, which is why we only ship trees in the spring. A big advantage with these kinds of trees, is that they take up very little space, and can therefore be easily shipped by mail all over Canada!
This photograph shows a 2-3-foot blackcurrant cane, just like one that you might receive. Depending on the height you choose at the time of purchase, the tree might be a little smaller (1-2 feet) or somewhat taller (3-5 feet.)