Wednesday, June 27, 2007

walk with me wed, and bring your berry pail

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...the red ripe Ribes are ready for the picking! ..."and make sure you wear your berry picking clothes"...I can hear my mother reminding me. As a kid, I used to go blueberry picking with my mother, she used to tie a belt around my waist, to hold the pail in place so I could pick berries with both hands.

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The bushes are laden with fruit..currants are self fertile and the fact that I had I pruned these back late last winter seemed to help them produce the most wonderful harvest that I have seen in years....well, that and the fact that I covered them this year...the birds adore the currants too! I don't know the cultivar because these currant berry bushes were a gift from a friend, who suddenly showed up with the transplants one day. Years later, I still find myself thanking her as I pick the fruit.

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See the beautiful strings, like red pearls...little jewels, translucent and shiny...you don't have to pick off each berry, just pick the strig (the main cluster) between your finger and thumb...

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it is ok to get the unripe ones, they contain the most pectin, and that helps the jam to jell. Later on, after we get inside and rinse them, we can roll the berries off the stems.

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Currants always seem to ripen when the weather is hot and humid which makes harvesting them a tedious job. It is good to have someone to pick with, someone to share the beauty of the day with...it also helps keep your mind off the work. And picking currants is work! After picking a few hundred of these gems, the sweat rolls down my back, all I can think of is the hotness of the sun, bees and other various insects buzz past my ears... my hands become sticky and smell of the currant's juice (for the rest of the day!)

There are rather a lot of seeds in each little fruit....and they are too puckering tart for me to eat from the bush. Did you know that at one time, back in the 20's I think it was, some members of the Ribes family were banned? They were thought to spread a blister rust disease to the white pine. Maybe that is the reason you don't see many currant bushes around.

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I filled the berry pail many times over, and have a great yield! I'm dirty, sweaty, covered with sticky currant juice, and feel like I have bugs in my hair! Last one to the river is a rotten egg~~ and since I'm the one who knows the path, I'm guessing that will be you!

11 comments:

Chery said...

Beautiful fruit! Bet the jelly/jam is great, too.

meresy_g said...

I think in Pennsylvania Black Currants are still banned because of spreading rust, but I could be wrong. That is a lot of berries and I identify with the sweaty, buggy act of berry picking. There should be a yoga pose called the berry picker. Awkward foot position, bent, extended lower back, awkward arm reach. But it is all worth it.

Leslie said...

Oh, I can so relate to the sweaty grubby feeling. Yuck. But it's also kind of wonderful, because you know you're outside, and it's peaceful. You certainly got a haul!

Fiberjoy said...

I'd be happy to spend a day picking currents with you then taking a dip in the river! Though berry picking is tedious work I find it very soothing.
Do you dry any of them?

I love your berry pail!!! Did you paint it?

Jessica at Bwlchyrhyd said...

Can't remember the specific details now but I have also heard that gooseberries were banned in America because of some disease that they spread -- which is why you don't find many of them over there -- but mine are almost ready for harvesting -- gooseberry fool -- yum!

cyndy said...

Hi Chery- The jam is great! Just the way I like it ...tart! Thanks for stopping by!

Meresy and Jessica- just so there is no mis information the deal with the currants is:

http://ssfruit.cas.psu.edu/446.htm
Legal Restrictions
Confusion often exists about the legality of growing gooseberries and currants since up until 1966 a federal ban prohibited the growth of Ribes. The ban was established because gooseberries and currants can serve as alternate hosts to white pine blister rust (Cronartium ribicola), a fungus that needs both Ribes and white pine to complete its life cycle. This federal legislation was rescinded in 1966. In 1933, Pennsylvania passed a law that limited growing gooseberries and currants in certain areas; however, the law is not enforced. Therefore, all Ribes can be grown in the state. If you have white pine nearby, though, you may want to consider growing less-susceptible types of Ribes. Black currant (Ribes nigrum) is by far the most susceptible, and for this reason many areas outside of Pennsylvania still prohibit growing it. Resistant black currant varieties are available. Red and white currants are less susceptible, and gooseberry is the least susceptible.

Leslie- Peaceful, and an exercise in patience! Best haul yet!

Fiberjoy- The bucket was painted by my late SIL...fond memories...
And no, didn't dry any berries..but you just reminded me that it is about time to drag the food dehydrator out of the attic!

Donna B said...

Oh, yes, I am the rotten egg! :-)

I have often wondered about why there are so few currants, and that perhaps explains it. It seems that most people just don't consider growing half of the things that they could. If I ever get my hands on a garden it will likely be bursting with variety! Your posts are so instructive as well as beautiful....

(Thanks for commenting on my blog, too. Hearing from people is so much fun!)

Anne said...

We always went for the later season berries, but still that same sweet stickiness. I used to take my pony as a pack horse (not that that many berries ever made it home!) and he and I would go up the trail and stop at the wild blackberry bushes. I think he ate as many as I did.

Cathy said...

My currant bushes were bulldozed at the old house and the plants I brought with me didn't thrive. I'll have to live vicariously thru you.

vanessa said...

what a glorious color those currants are!

Pat K said...

It has been years since I have seen currants, and I love them so much! The best I can do now is to find jellies at a health food store. Thank you for the pictures, I will enjoy them vicariously through you as well.

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