Red-flowering Currant is an ornamental shrub with stunning rose-colored flowers clusters becoming purple-black, edible berries.
The berries of the Red-flowering Currant are a native food for both humans and wildlife. They are closely related to the European Red Currant, commonly cultivated for their edible berries in Europe. Native peoples of the region use/used the berries both fresh and dried.
The taste ranges from bland to sweet, and the texture from mealy to juicy, depending on growing location and sub-species characteristics. Increase their natural sweetness with full sun, rich soils, and sufficient water. Their natural flavor shines when dried into "currant raisins" or made into jams, pies, juices, or syrups. Or, give this treat to the wildlife! The birds love them!
Environment and Culture
Red-flowering Currant is at home in sunny forest openings and edges, as well as along the stream-sides, throughout the Pacific Northwest - from sea to mountain tops. The prolific flower-clusters are a stunning burst of color amidst the greens and brown of the NW forest Spring. Red-flowering Currants prefer moist humus-rich soils, at least part-sun, and steady moisture.
Our native Currants have been an important ecological food source for both humans and wildlife for millenia. Butterflies, birds, bees, moths, and hummingbirds adore the flower nectar.
Harvest, Care, and Preparation
Harvest the seeds after the plant has dried down in late summer through early fall. Use a basket to catch the seeds as you pull your thumb and forefinger along the stem, when ripe the seeds will break off very easily. Prepare the seeds by separating out all the chaff, put them through a grinder (many people keep a spare coffee grinder for this kind of thing) and soaking the seeds for a couple of hours, change the water at least once and remove any remaining chaff that floats to the surface. Cook the seeds until they are soft and swollen with water, use two parts water to one part seed.