Sunday, July 14, 2013

Currant Hell

Journal of the currant pickers

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Currant bushes. Yes there is a lot of fungal disease this year with the wet weather but it didn't affect yield much! This picture was taken after at least one picking.

Day 1:

OG (that's me): Oh look, the currants are almost ready.
Younger Child: Yay, currant muffins, currant juice. I love currants.
Older Child: Will you tell stories?
OG: Fine, stories, but you have to tell some too. 
Younger Child: I'm going to eat some right now.

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Day 2:

OG: We should really go pick some currants (for hours and hours and hours and...)
Older Child: Maybe the birds will eat them.
OG: They didn't last year. Why don't you get a bowl.
Older Child: But I'm reading.
Younger Child: Mommy's going to tell harvest stories.
OG: Do I have to?

Half an hour later

Older Child: I'm hot.
Younger Child says nothing because she has run off to play
Baby wants a nap.

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Bowl of currants slowly filling up.

Day 3:

Older Child: Do you think the birds will get them?
OG: Birds? Hungry? Hey you, waxwings. Get out of the serviceberries and delight in this feast of red deliciousness.
Younger Child: You promised to tell stories!!
OG: Fine.

A stirring rendition of the Pied Piper complete with musical scores follows. Children half heartedly pick.

Older Child: I'm hot and there are spider webs. Do I pick the spider webs?
OG: They are fruitworm webs not spiders. How many times do I have to answer that?
Older Child: Are these spider webs? Are these spider webs? Are these spider webs?
Younger Child says nothing because she has ran off to bring the chicks to eat earwigs under the currants bushes.

An hour later we bring in a large bowl.

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Day 4:

OG: Time to ... kids?

An hour later, I freeze a bunch of white currants.

Day 5:

Older Child: Do you think the birds will eat them.
OG: We've been over this.
Younger child darts in and out of bushes to bring back one or two currants at a time. Eats half.
Baby crawls over and starts to pluck them off. We pause for photo moment.
Younger child gets bored and gets the chicks and starts placing them on people's shoulders.
Older Child: Is that a deer fly?
OG: Sounds like it.
Older child: Ah, the chick ate one off your head!

We start wearing chicks.

One hour later we are almost done.

Older Child asks for the fifteenth time: What are you currently doing mommy?
OG: Picking currants.
Peels of laughter.
Older Child: Pass me a chicken.

One hour later, the bushes are almost empty.

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Day 6:

No one mentions currants

Day 7:

Younger Child: Guess what I found in the woods?
OG: What?
Younger Child: More currants!!!
OG: I didn't hear that.

We now affectionately call this currant hell. P.S. There are more currants.


Currants, and other Ribes, are super easy to grow here in my experience. They are versatile too, the red replacing cranberries in many recipes at our place. You can pick them stems and all and squish then strain them to make a juice or a base for jelly. Or you can clean and freeze.

They are forgiving of growing conditions, often found as an understory bush but will be heavier producers in the sun.

Around here, several types are commonly grown:

Red currant - Ribes rubrum. Heavy producing and often found wild though they may or may not be as tasty as some of the commercial cultivars.
White currants - also Ribes rubrum just a white form. These are delectable.
Black currants/cassis - Ribes nigrum. A special delicious flavour. Sometimes the leaves are used but as I have not tried this, I suggest you do your own research.
Golden flowering currant - Ribes aureum. Grown as an ornamental for its early yellow flowers but also edible. I find them quite tasty
Alpine Currant - Ribes alpinum is a common hedge plant with bland fruit

Not to mention the gooseberries and jostaberry. In the woods, you might find a prickly gooseberry which is just begging to be part of a bet. Traditionally the spines were singed off.


Tom said...

love currants. I should plant some. Dont live close enough to you to relieve you of some of yours.

Stefaneener said...

I think Lee Valley or someone sells a Swedish kind of harvesty scoop that you just "comb" through the bush. While your harvest is lovely, I feel your pain. Sounds like huckleberry harvesting here. Fun, but lots of work!

Ottawa Gardener said...

I've thought of trying a berry rake. Maybe it would make it all so much better. I doubt it but we love "Susie" the apple peeler at our house. "Susie" is the name my kids gave it not the brand by the way.

Anonymous said...

The wearing of chicks made your berry stories even funnier. Thanks for showing a pic of you wearing a chick hahaha! I hope you enjoy the berries throughout the year ^_^

Irma said...

This is fantastic!