History of Black Currants

In England

The recorded history of black currants appear to date only to the 1600s. Herbalist records tell us that black currant juice was used to treat bladder stones, liver disorders, coughs, and lung ailments.

Black currants have been grown in northern Europe as a fruit crop for 400-500 years, but were not excessively popular until World War II in Great Britain. At that time fruits high in vitamin C, like oranges, became very difficult to find. There were very few fruits that grew naturally in the nation that were high in vitamin C, except for 1 - black currants - which have 3-4 times the amount of vitamin C per serving as an orange does.

Knowing the importance of vitamin C for human health, the British government encouraged black currant cultivation. Black currant concentrates were developed that could be turned into beverages and flavorings. The popularity of black currant flavoring in Britain continues to this day.

In North America

In the United States, the story of black currants took a completely different direction. In the early 1900's, it was believed that black currants encouraged the development of 'white pine blister rust' - a plant disease that threatened the booming logging industry. As a result, the U.S. government banned black currants, which continued nation-wide until 1966. Today, a number of individual states still maintain this ban.

Black currants remain popular in northern Europe. Interest is growing in North America as we begin to understand the amazing health benefits of this small dark purple berry.

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