The black currant (Ribes nigrum) has long been a favorite culinary fruit in most parts of Europe, but as yet it is not much grown in the United States. But in many neighborhoods, settled by Europeans mainly, it is found in most gardens and its fruit is much esteemed, especially when stewed or canned for winter use. The well-grown fruit is nearly as large as the Morello cherries, and when canned the color is almost
identical with that of stewed cranberries. The fruit has a peculiar odor in the skin that many dislike. This is easily removed by immersing the fruit, in a wire basket, for a few moments in boiling-hot water prior to stewing or canning.
There is nothing essentially different in its management from that of the red currant, except in pruning. The best fruit grows on wood of the preceding year's growth, while the red varieties bear the best fruit on two-year-old wood. Where grown commercially in Europe, the young growth is headed back fully one half each year. This favors the starting of new shoots for the next year's fruiting and the cutting back tends to give larger fruit, as with the grape. But this plan requires a system of periodic heading back, quite severely in the dormant period, to secure a renewal of new wood over the whole exterior. But a more primitive system is adopted by amateurs who follow the European home plan. The bearing branches are cut when the fruit is ripe and carried to a bench in the shade, where the fruit is picked at leisure. This annual cutting back gives strong bearing shoots for the next crop.
In Europe, in the summer of 1882, the writer heard the story repeated, from England east to the Volga River, that the jam and jelly of the black currant was the general remedy for all throat affections, and that the jelly mingled with water was a sure cure for bowel disorders and summer troubles of the stomach.