I don’t like blackcurrants. I wish I did, but I don’t. I especially wish I liked them in summer, because I have a venerable bush that produces great bunches of large black berries that just go on swelling until they are so soft and large that you have to pick them individually so that they don’t burst. They do look beautiful though:I was cleaning out the freezer, which I do about every five years, and found boxes of blackcurrants going back to 2007. There’s really no point in going on pretending I am going to use them, or make jam to give away, or summer puddings, or indeed anything. I tell every friend and neighbour in sight to come and help themselves, but even so, the birds seem to get most of them. Also, they are a really fiddly bore to pick and clean, which is another reason for leaving them where they are.I love the way light shines through redcurrants. And I quite like the taste. But here again, I always end up with a surplus that I don’t know what to do with. So, I don’t spend much time on my redcurrants either.
Raspberries on the other hand, I cherish…I adore raspberries, and look forward slavishly to the moment at the start of July when the first berries turn red. Picking them is a delight; eating them is even better. And in the middle of winter, a box of raspberries, unfrozen and turned into raspberry fool with lots of whipped cream, brings back the taste of summer.
Whenever I see the meagre little boxes of raspberries sold by supermarkets at an exorbitant price, as though they were some exotic tropical fruit, I feel faintly scandlised. Who are they trying to fool?
Scotland grows the best raspberries in the world, and although the big commercial plantings are further north, (there are many varieties named after the Angus glens) I don’t do badly. I was lucky enough to find one of the few patches of gravelly soil in the garden (probably dumped by a glacier) for them, and, for the most part, they thrive. I love wiring in the new shoots and thinking how much I am going to enjoy them in a year’s time.
This year hasn’t been quite as good as normal, because a lot of canes were smashed by a vicious spring gale, and the bare rooted ones I bought to replace some old canes haven’t taken. So I’m looking at a nasty gap in next summers crop. I’ll just have to make the most of this year’s.