Ribes rubrum 1.jpg
Cultivated redcurrant
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Saxifragales
Family: Grossulariaceae
Genus: Ribes
R. rubrum
Binomial name
Ribes rubrum
L. 1753 not Torr. & A. Gray 1840 nor Hook. f. & Thomson 1858
  • Grossularia rubra (L.) Scop.
  • Ribes rubrum var. scandicum Jancz.
  • Ribes rubrum var. sylvestre DC. ex Berland.
  • Ribes spicatum subsp. scandicum Hyl.
  • Ribes sylvestre (Lam.) Mert. & Koch
  • Ribes vulgare Lam.
  • Ribes vulgare var. sylvestre Lam.
  • Ribesium rubrum Medik.
  • Ribes triste var. alaskanum Berger

The redcurrant or red currant (Ribes rubrum) is a member of the genus Ribes in the gooseberry family. It is native across Europe.[2][3] The species is widely cultivated and has escaped into the wild in many regions.[4][5]

Ribes rubrum is a deciduous shrub normally growing to 1–1.5 metres (3–5 ft) tall, occasionally 2 m (7 ft), with five-lobed leaves arranged spirally on the stems. The flowers are inconspicuous yellow-green, in pendulous 4–8 cm (1+123+14 in) racemes, maturing into bright red translucent edible berries about 8–12 mm (3812 in) diameter, with 3–10 berries on each raceme. An established bush can produce 3–4 kg (7–9 lb) of berries from mid to late summer.[5]


Redcurrant berries

There are several other similar species native in Europe, Asia and North America, also with edible fruit. These include Ribes spicatum (northern Europe and northern Asia), Ribes alpinum (northern Europe), R. schlechtendalii (northeast Europe), R. multiflorum (southeast Europe), R. petraeum (southwest Europe) and R. triste (North America; Newfoundland to Alaska and southward in mountains).

While Ribes rubrum and R. nigrum are native to northern and eastern Europe, large berried cultivars of the redcurrant were first produced in Belgium and northern France in the 17th century. In modern times, numerous cultivars have been selected; some of these have escaped gardens and can be found in the wild across Europe and extending into Asia.[6]

The white currant is also a cultivar of Ribes rubrum.[7] Although it is a sweeter and albino variant of the redcurrant, not a separate botanical species, it is sometimes marketed with names such as Ribes sativum or Ribes silvestre, or sold as a different fruit.

Close-up of blossom

Currant bushes prefer partial to full sunlight and can grow in most types of soil.[7] They are relatively low-maintenance plants and can also be used as ornamentation.


Many redcurrant and whitecurrant cultivars are available for domestic cultivation from specialist growers. The following have gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit:-[8]

  • "Jonkheer van Tets"[9]
  • "Red Lake"[10]
  • "Stanza"[11]
  • "White Grape"[12] (whitecurrant)

Culinary uses

A fruiting redcurrant bush near an abandoned house in a semi-deserted village in Yaroslavl Oblast, Russia at 59 degrees northern latitude

With maturity, the tart flavour of redcurrant fruit is slightly greater than its blackcurrant relative, but with the same approximate sweetness. The white-fruited variant of redcurrant, often referred to as white currant, has the same tart flavour but with greater sweetness. Although frequently cultivated for jams and cooked preparations, much like the white currant, it is often served raw or as a simple accompaniment in salads, garnishes, or drinks when in season.

Redcurrant cuttings

In the United Kingdom, redcurrant jelly is a condiment often served with lamb, game meat including venison, turkey and goose in a festive or Sunday roast. It is essentially a jam and is made in the same way, by adding the redcurrants to sugar, boiling, and straining.[13]

In France, the highly rarefied and hand-made Bar-le-duc or "Lorraine jelly" is a spreadable preparation traditionally made from white currants or alternatively redcurrants.[14] The pips are taken off by hand, originally by monks, with a goose feather, before cooking.[15]

In Scandinavia and Schleswig-Holstein, it is often used in fruit soups and summer puddings (rødgrød, rote grütze or rode grütt).[14] In Germany it is also used in combination with custard or meringue as a filling for tarts.

In Linz, Austria, it is the most commonly used filling for the Linzer torte.[14][16] It can be enjoyed in its fresh state without the addition of sugar.

In German-speaking areas, syrup or nectar derived from the redcurrant is added to soda water and enjoyed as a refreshing drink named Johannisbeerschorle.[14] It is so named because the redcurrants (Johannisbeeren, "John's berry" in German) are said to ripen first on St. John's Day, also known as Midsummer Day, June 24.

In Russia, redcurrants are ubiquitous and used in jams, preserves, compotes and desserts. It is also used to make Kissel, a sweet healthy drink made from fresh berries or fruits (such as red currants, cherries, cranberries).[17] The leaves have many uses in traditional medicine, such as making an infusion with black tea.[18] Also the plants were cultivated in Russian monastery gardens in the 11th century.[19]

Nutrition and phytochemicals

Currants, red and white, raw
Redcurrant (Ribes rubrum) fruits.jpg
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 234 kJ (56 kcal)
13.8 g
Sugars 7.37 g
Dietary fiber 4.3 g
0.2 g
1.4 g
Vitamins Quantity
Thiamine (B1)
0.04 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.05 mg
Niacin (B3)
0.1 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
0.064 mg
Vitamin B6
0.07 mg
Folate (B9)
8 μg
7.6 mg
Vitamin C
41 mg
Vitamin E
0.1 mg
Vitamin K
11 μg
Minerals Quantity
33 mg
1 mg
13 mg
0.186 mg
44 mg
275 mg
1 mg
0.23 mg

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA FoodData Central

In a 100-gram (3+12-ounce) reference serving, redcurrants (or white) supply 234 kilojoules (56 kilocalories) of food energy and are a rich source of vitamin C, providing 49% of the Daily Value (DV, table). Vitamin K is the only other essential nutrient in significant content at 10% of DV (table).


Redcurrant fruits are known for their tart flavor, a characteristic provided by a relatively high content of organic acids and mixed polyphenols.[20] As many as 65 different phenolic compounds may contribute to the astringent properties of redcurrants, with these contents increasing during the last month of ripening.[21] Twenty-five individual polyphenols and other nitrogen-containing phytochemicals in redcurrant juice have been isolated specifically with the astringent flavor profile sensed in the human tongue.[22]

See also


  1. ^ "Ribes rubrum". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSP). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew – via The Plant List.
  2. ^ Brennan, Rex M. (1996). "Currants and Gooseberries". In Jules Janick; James N. Moore (eds.). Fruit Breeding. Vol. II - Vine and Small Fruits. John Wiley & Sons. p. 196. ISBN 0471126756. |volume= has extra text (help)
  3. ^ "Ribes rubrum L." Altervista Flora Italiana; includes photos and European distribution map.CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  4. ^ Morin, Nancy R. (2009). "Ribes rubrum". In Flora of North America Editorial Committee (ed.). Flora of North America North of Mexico (FNA). 8. New York and Oxford – via, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
  5. ^ a b Lu, Lingdi; Alexander, Crinan. "Ribes rubrum". Flora of China – via, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
  6. ^ Verlag, Orbis "Orbis Naturführer", 2000,
  7. ^ a b "REDCURRANT (Ribes rubrum) and Whitecurrant & Pinkcurrant". Grow Your Own. Retrieved 2009-08-28.
  8. ^ "AGM Plants - Crops" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  9. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Ribes rubrum 'Jonkheer van Tets'". Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  10. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Ribes rubrum 'Red Lake'". Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  11. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Ribes rubrum 'Stanza'". Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  12. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Ribes rubrum 'White Grape'". Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  13. ^ "Homemade Redcurrant Jelly recipe".
  14. ^ a b c d T. K. Lim Edible Medicinal And Non-Medicinal Plants: Volume 4, Fruits , p. 44, at Google Books
  15. ^ Heather Arndt Anderson Berries: A Global History (2018), p. 86, at Google Books
  16. ^ Haywood, A and Walker, K "Upper Austria - Linz", Lonely Planet - Austria p. 207
  17. ^ "Kisel – Russian sweet drink". milkandbun. 2 August 2015. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
  18. ^ Thomas Andrew A cyclopedia of domestic medicine and surgery (1842), p. 135, at Google Books
  19. ^ O’Keefe, Liz (21 July 2016). "Currants: black, then red now it's white all over". Retrieved 29 March 2020.
  20. ^ Mikulic-Petkovsek, M.; Schmitzer, V.; Slatnar, A.; Stampar, F.; Veberic, R. (2012). "Composition of sugars, organic acids, and total phenolics in 25 wild or cultivated berry species". J Food Sci. 77 (10): 1064–70. doi:10.1111/j.1750-3841.2012.02896.x. PMID 22924969.
  21. ^ Mikulic-Petkovsek, M.; et al. (2015). "Changes in fruit quality parameters of four Ribes species during ripening". Food Chem. 173: 363–74. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2014.10.011. PMID 25466034.
  22. ^ Schwarz, B.; Hofmann, T. (2007). "Sensory-guided decomposition of red currant juice (Ribes rubrum) and structure determination of key astringent compounds". J Agric Food Chem. 55 (4): 1394–1404. doi:10.1021/jf0629078. PMID 17261016.

External links