Wild Blackcurrants

blackcurrantsthumb.jpgDuring a very productive foraging walk in Flowerdale Forest, Wester Ross, in a damp and shady wooded area, we came across a number of blackcurrant bushes in full fruit.

What Are Blackcurrants?

blackcurrants1.jpg

Ribes nigrum - a shrubby plant of wooded places, hedges and thickets, with tough wiry stems and downy or bristly light green leaves that may be slightly sticky or clammy to touch, with a resinous, musky aroma.

The berries, which may be glossy purple-black or covered in blue-white waxy bloom, are borne on long stalks that hang straight down from the stems - so they're not always immediately visible without rummaging a bit amongst the leaves.

blackcurrants2.jpgWhen the berries are fully ripe, they should be very slightly yielding to the touch and should detach from the stalks easily.

There is usually a brownish tuft at the blossom end - this is the remains of the flower, and is best removed before cooking/eating them - it's easy to just pluck off using the fingernails.

blackcurrants3.jpgI picked a mixture of raspberries, bilberries (locally known as blaeberries) and blackcurrants.

Ideally, I'd have picked the different types of fruit into separate containers, but I only had one with me on the walk, so I had to sort out the blackcurrants from the mixture on returning back to the holiday cottage.

blackcurrants4.jpgAdding just a tiny splash of water and some sugar (about half the weight of the berries) to a pan, I simmered the berries gently.

About five minutes later, the berries had softened, burst and released lots of deep purple juice, which had formed a light syrup with the sugar. I took the pan off the heat before the blackcurrants completely broke down to pulp.

I made some scones (recipe here).

blackcurrants5.jpgI served the raspberries and bilberries fresh and raw on whipped double cream on the oven-fresh scone, with the warm blackcurrant compote spooned over the top.

In case it isn't abundantly obvious... this was remarkably good to eat.  A Wild food triumph!

Highland Wild Food

This article is one of a series on wild foodstuffs foraged on holiday in the Wester Ross area of the Scottish Highlands in 2010 - click the 'Highland' tag in the side column to see some of the others.

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