Category Archives: Blackcurrant

Jostaberry blossum – a rare sight

 

If, like me, you love winter, 2010 has been a vintage year in this soggy corner of Victoria. At Icy Creek, however, even I’ve been starting to hanker for some warmer weather.  And a week into October we finally got some – that is, before an Antarctic blast blustered up from the valley below us last weekend.

Spring has been slower to settle in than in previous years, but the jostaberry bushes are finally in bloom. As the plants themselves are still growing (quite vigourously too in the last year) and still very unusual in Australia (I’ve never seen the fruit on sale in any market) this is, by default a rare sight, even if not a particularly spectacular one.

Meanwhile, the blackcurrant flowers (below) are, to use an inappropriate yet strangely apt metaphor, are proving to be one of nature’s red herrings. Weirder still when you factor in that these are one of the jostaberry’s parents. The other is the gooseberry.

Black Currant Affairs

Blackcurrants harvested on New Year's Eve, 2008

Blackcurrants harvested on New Year's Eve, 2008

Forget New Year’s resolutions. I can tell you with some certainty that 2009 is going to kick off much the same way that 2008 is coming to a close – with me extracting small and fiddly black currants from their billowing bushes. It’s been a bumper crop this summer, but with so much effort required to harvest these delicate morsels by hand (the berries you can see in the picture above were a whole morning’s work), I’m already seeking expressions of interest to “outsauce” next summer’s haul.

That said, I don’t think I’d go quite as far as the legendary Louis Glowinski, who begins his spray about them in his classic tome “The Complete Book of Fruit Growing in Australia” with a damning dismissal. “Black currants are not decorative, they’re not a delight to have around”, he writes. “Their taste when fresh is unpleasant, and their smell is worse.” And they’re “obviously not for fresh eating”.

Much as they’re hard work, I beg to differ. Our black currants taste just fine straight off the bush, and they’re certainly terrific in desserts or over pancakes. I do, however, see what Glowinski’s getting at when he points out that they don’t ripen evenly, which makes extracting them from their tiny trusses pretty tedious – I’m sure that most of the armoury of Vitamin C they contain is expended on removing them one by one, day after day, year out, year in. In this respect they’re a lot more fuss and bother than jostaberries, which were conjured up in the middle of the 20th century by crossing black currants with gooseberries.

Still, at least I know that when the sun goes down this evening, there’ll be a glass of Kir waiting for me.

I’d better get back to them. Happy 2009.

Icy Creek – Fruit and Nut Inventory

 

Midsummer in the main orchard paddock

Midsummer in the main orchard paddock

As well as the chestnuts, we have started up a cool climate orchard with a range of  fruit trees, soft fruit shrubs, and a few other nut trees. Over this summer I’ll set up some pages for some of the season’s star performers (the kiwis and the gooseberries look promising this year), along with some of our newest additions (the perry trees, which are supposed to get enormous in about 50 years)  but here’s a broad overview of what’s in the ground.

APPLE (Pomme de Neige, Peasgood Nonsuch, Red Fuji, Staymans Winesap, Granny Smith, Pink Lady, Gala, Akane, Bramley’s Seedling, Kingston Black, Mutsu, Somerset Redstreak, Michelin, Bulmer’s Norman, Grimes Golden, Frequin Rouge Amer, Cox’s Orange Pippin, Stewart’s Seedling, and Summer Strawberry)

PEAR (William, Packham, Beurre Bosc, Corella)

PERRY PEAR (Gin and Green Horse)

APRICOT (Moorpark)

PLUM (Greengage, Prune D’Agen, President, Coe’s Golden Drop)

PLUCOT

NECTARINE (Goldmine)

CHERRY (Sunburst, Napoleon)

PEACH (Taylor Queen, Anzac)

MEDLAR

GOOSEBERRY (Captivator)

BLACKCURRANT

REDCURRANT

LOGANBERRY

THORNLESS BLACKBERRY

THORNLESS YOUNGBERRY

MULBERRY (English Black)

BLUEBERRY (Denise, Northern, Blue Rose, Brigitta)

JOSTABERRY

QUINCE (Smyrna)

KIWI (Haywood)

POMEGRANATE (Wonderful)

STRAWBERRY (Cambridge Rival)

WALNUT (Hartley, Tehama)

ALMOND

CHESTNUT (Red Spanish, Purdon’s Pride, De Coppe Marone)

HAZELNUT

OLIVE

LEMON (Meyer)

CHINOTTO

ORANGE (Seville)