Tuesday, August 11, 2015


The red currants near our condo are not as plentiful as they were last year, but they are absolutely still worth picking. They love to grow in thick deadfall, which can make picking a bit treacherous. Highbush cranberries are also abundant in this area (as they are in most of Southcentral Alaska). Even though I consider myself and expert berry identifier, I still find myself occasionally reaching for a cranberry when I think I'm getting a currant. There are just so many of both, growing so close together, that you really have to stay focused to stick with one type of berry!

Red currants on the right in the foreground, highbush cranberries in the background
When we were hiking Crow Pass we encountered black currants. I've seen these before near Fairbanks - the bushes are more burly and thorny, the berries are fuzzy, and they taste terrible. They seem most likely to be the prickly currant (Ribes lacustre). Today down by the river near our condo, Ryan came upon a different type of black currant - the berries are smooth and the leaves are more light green. I believe they are northern black currants (Ribes hudsonanium). Unfortunately the berries also taste rank. It's too bad because there were tons of them. I hear of people making syrups and sauces with black currants, but I wonder if anyone really does it with wild ones, or if the cultivated variety have been selectively bred enough that they taste tolerable.

northern black currants


  1. My co-worker much prefers the taste and jellying qualities of the black currents. And I've met a few others around town who do too. I gather they are more 'savory'. Patrick

  2. Mom mom made a great batch of jelly mixing a small amount of black currant juice with red currant juice and apple juice. But they were cultivated black currants, so I'm wondering if they're a little sweeter and/or less bitter.