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flowering currant, blood currant

Ribes sanguineum

When our native early spring bulbs begin to bloom, they are accompanied by a few non native species from warmer climates which have become naturalised here.  One of my favourites is the flowering or blood currant/Ribes sanguineum.  A native to western North America, this lovely shrub is popular in Edinburgh gardens and is occasionally feral in our woods.  The berries are bland and few, but the flowers are not only beautiful but also delicious.  They make a gorgeously coloured and flavoured (think black currant with elderflower and a hint of thyme or sage) cordial, can be used to decorate sweet or savoury dishes, and make a pretty and delicious alcohol infusion.  This is a flavour to try, unless you dislike  the scent of elderflower and blackcurrant.  Ribes sanguineum, Ribes nigrum, and Sambucus nigra all contain cat ketone ( 4-thio-4-methylpentan-2-one) which is also an ingredient of the perfume of cat urine.

I make cordial and gin liqueur, jelly, tea and marshmallows, gelatin and sweets with it, and use it to flavour and decorate soups, stews, cakes and salads.  It is aromatic and versatile, and with luck can be foraged in your own (or your neighbours')  garden.

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