Grover was off (AmE from) school yesterday (because of a (BrE) dodgy tummy, and we had the following exchange:

G: Is there a fruit called currant?
Me: Yes, there's blackcurrant and redcurrant.
G:  No, but is there any such thing as a currant?
Me: Yes. Black and red.
G:  But is anything called currant?
Me: Yes, black currant and red currant.*

G: But I'm talking about currant.
Me: OK. There are berries called currants. And they come in different types. And one is black and the other is red.
G: Ohhhh. OK.
*I'm not even getting into white currants here, which are from redcurrant bushes. The conversation is confusing enough.

The problem in our conversation became clear to me the fourth time she asked her question. In BrE blackcurrant and redcurrant are compound nouns. Since they're one word, they only have one primary stress (i.e. syllable you emphasi{s/z}e most in speaking). You can hear a compound/non-compound stress difference in She was a greengrocer versus The martian was a green grocer. In our house (among[st] the Englishpeople) it's the first syllable that's stressed in the currant compounds:  BLACKcurrant and REDcurrant. But the pronunciation guides in UK dictionaries tend to give it as blackCURrant'. At any rate, not BLACK CURrant, which is what they'd be as separate words.

So G wasn't necessarily recogni{s/z}ing them as separable words. To her, asking this question was like hearing about (AmE) automobiles and (AmE) bloodmobiles and wanting to know if there are vehicles called mobiles (MO-beelz).

For me, it seemed evident that there must be currants. Of course, I have more life experience than the eight-year-old. And, perhaps relevantly, I came to currants as an American.

Earlier this week, Kathy Flake pointed out an article answering the question "Why does the purple Skittle taste different outside America?" Both of us had wondered (as I'm sure many other transatlantic types have done): why is everything blackcurrant flavo(u)red in the UK, and never grape flavo(u)red? To quote the article:

Most American mouths have never tasted the sweet yet tart tang of the blackcurrant berry. There’s a big reason for that: in the early 20th century, the growing of blackcurrants was banned on a federal level in the U.S. after legislators discovered that the plants, brought over from Europe, had become vectors for a wood-destroying disease known as white pine blister rust.
During the 1960s, the federal ban on the berry was relaxed in favor of state-by-state jurisdiction, and most states now allow it to be grown. But the damage had already been done—the blackcurrant jams, juices, pastries and cakes that are standard throughout Europe are nowhere to be found stateside.
Americans use the Concord grape, developed in the US and used in juices, (AmE) jellies [discussed in the comments in the linked post], grape pies (a local special[i]ty where I'm from), and grape flavo(u)ring. It turns out that these grapes are very susceptible to another plant disease, so it's probably best not to export those either. The main thing the grapes and blackcurrants have in common is that they're purple--necessary if you want people to "taste the rainbow".

So when I moved to the UK, I knew about currants in the way I know about lutefisk. It's something other people eat somewhere else, about which I have only secondhand knowledge. 
Did I know that they came in black and red types? Could I imagine what a fresh one looked or tasted like? I can't remember now what I didn't know then. But the knowledge was vague. I certainly didn't know that the black and red types were represented by joined-up compound nouns. I'd have imagined them more like red grapes and white grapes, where they're separate words. And if they're two separate words, then the stress pattern for saying them may well be less compound-like. But not necessarily. We often don't close up compounds, even when they do follow the compound stress pattern--e.g. ICE cream. But when they are closed, how to pronounce them is less ambiguous.

And I've only just this minute learned that the dried fruit currant is not the same as the currants I've met here (see the Merriam-Webster definition below). I may have to revise my answer to Grover.

So that's what's in currant buns. Seriously, I just thought they used some kind of low-quality currant berries in currant buns. So, my answer to G was not particularly helpful. Yes, there are currants, but in BrE, they're rarely the same thing as blackcurrant

After my day mostly home with Grover, this tweet was thrown my way:
...and the congruence of currant-related events led me to write this post. Why is an American organi{s/z}ation asking a British newspaper for spelling advice? Perhaps because they (very reasonably) don't trust Americans to know anything about currants. But because currants have a different place in the culinary lives of Americans and Brits, they also have different linguistic places.

The closed (i.e. no space) compound noun status of blackcurrant tells you a lot about the centrality of that thing as a thing unto itself in British culture. British English famously (if you count 'famous among a few of my linguist friends' as famous) resists closing compounds more than American does. But when compounds are closed in writing, it signals that they have that compound stress pattern. And when they get that stress pattern, it's a signal that the concept represented by the compound is now a familiar unit in the language.

Side note: John McWhorter has recently done a Lexicon Valley podcast with the title 'Word Sex' ("How words [orig. AmE] hook up and make new ones") in which he looks at how that compound stress works and what it means. I very much recommend it, but British listeners will think he gets the stress wrong on half of his examples. At the end does discuss an AmE/BrE difference.  McWhorter's been doing that podcast since early summer, and he's really made something of it. If you've tried LV before and didn't like it, it's worth trying again.

But back to the A.V. Club's problem. Is there a space or not? In BrE, no. Dictionaries (Oxford, Collins, Chambers) close the compound. The Corpus of Global Web-Based English has 166 UK blackcurrant(s) to only 11 black currant(s).

The American data is a different matter: 16 without the space, 21 with. You can see how little Americans write about the fruit. When they do write about it, they haven't got a firm agreement on how to spell it. Red( )currant is much the same. American dictionaries that have the word (Merriam-Webster and American Heritage) have the space:  have a space in black currant. Webster's New World Dictionary (not a Merriam-Webster product) doesn't even bother to define it--but does have it as two words in the definition for creme de cassis.

Because the American dictionaries give it as two words, they don't bother giving a pronunciation guide--they rely on the pronunciation in black and currant to be enough. The Cambridge dictionary gives different American and British pronunciations (listen here), but I've been burnt before by their American pronunciations. The Oxford Learner's dictionary gives both compound pronunciations (stress on first or second syllable) for both countries (listen here). And all three UK pronouncers on Forvo put the stress on the first syllable (listen here), but no Americans have bothered to offer a pronunciation of it.

So, how do Americans pronounce it? It seems they mostly don't.


  1. Your darling ankle biter might have come across currant buns, and this maybe why she asked the question.
    In that situation, the currants are raisins.

  2. There's blackcurrants (mmm Ribena), redcurrants (mmm jam) which are both fresh fruit looking things.

    Then there's currants, sultanas and raisins, all of which are dried grapes. Currants for currant buns, sultanas often go in savory dishes, and raisins are everywhere, including being eaten as a snack.

    Hungry now!

  3. To me, the primary meaning of currant would be the dried grapes, found in cakes, buns, maybe rice puddings, and mentally, I have blackcurrants and redcurrants in a separate compartment of my brain.

  4. Indeed, my first UK answer to "Is there a fruit called currant?" would be "no: they are just dried raisins." Blackcurrants / redcurrants are different things.

  5. As an AmE speaker I can confirm that I really didn't know anything about currant except that it's a dark-colored fruit (I picture in my head a so-purple-it's-almost-black jelly).

    In fact, while traveling my family once overheard a man at breakfast explaining currants to his young child, and I think they were British. The boy was so non-responsive to the dad's patient attempt at instruction we had to hold back our giggles. The rest of the trip we were imitating the conversation: "This is CURR-ant. Can you say CURR-ant? Go ahead, try to say it. CURR-ant. CURR-ant." Of course we preferred to make up ridiculous responses from the toddler's side: "I just want some JAHM, old man!"

  6. What have people got against whitecurrants?

  7. I have had both blackcurrant and redcurrant jelly here in the U.S. Bonne Maman is a French import brand that's readily available in California; and my mother-in-law, who is herself a French import, likes it. I had noticed the lack of a space on the label but just figured that was part of the product name rather than a generic term for the fruit itself. Interesting to find out it's not.

    I also agree with you on John McWhorter and Lexicon Valley. I'm very much enjoying the new direction he's taken with it and I particularly liked the 'Word Sex' episode.

  8. That reminds me: I did once have to buy redcurrant jelly in Illinois in the 90s. I was following (IIRC) a beef bourguignon recipe from one of the Silver Palate cookbooks.

    I've bought it couple of times for beef recipes in the UK, but since I live with a vegetarian, the jar has gone out of date by the time I next need it.

    I don't know if people who are making the currant=raisin comments have read far enough in the post to see that it does come up! You are indeed right that that's the default meaning of 'currant' in BrE, which I had hoped I'd made clear by the end.

  9. "You are indeed right that that's the default meaning of 'currant' in BrE"

    I'd go further than default, it's the only meaning (at least for me, South West England, mid-twenties). If someone said "there are currants on the table" and it turned out they were blackcurrants or redcurrants I would be as baffled as if someone said "there's a horse outside" and it turned out to be a seahorse or a clothes horse.

  10. Indeed, talking about blackcurrants and redcurrants in connection to currants is like talking about a magnificat in connection to cats.

  11. Growing up in western Canada my (European immigrant) grandparents had two current bushes; one red and one black. I loved standing in the garden eating red currents off the bush, but didn't really care for the black ones as they were a bit bitter.

    I was also aware of currents from the store as they were used in one of my favorite baked goods; butter tarts (sooooooo good). I assumed that the store currents were dried black currents just like raisins were dried grapes and remember being a bit puzzled at how much they changed in the drying, it was only many years later that I learned that the dry store currents were actually from a small grape... the knowledge clicked into place and the world made better sense.

    I can't recall seeing the name for these fruits written enough to know what is common here, but in my thoughts I'm of the two word version.

    Anonymous said: "Then there's currants, sultanas and raisins, all of which are dried grapes."

    I find this phrasing interesting as to me 'raisin' means dried grape, so sultanas are a type of raisin, and once I learned the true origin of the little dry version of currents I consider them a type of raisin. There are also other types of raisin; thompson, golden, etc.

    Finally I'd like to add that I see a lot of products these days that are black current based (sweets, syrups, alcohols), they just don't say so, they all say Cassis

  12. I suspect The AV Club is gearing up to review GBBO. Has someone done a recipe with blackcurrants or blackcurrant jam?

    What is the etymology of blackcurrant and redcurrant? The etymology of currant from raisons de Corauntz as grapes of Corinth gives us most of our small soft fruit terms! But it doesn't seem to extend to [colour[+currant and the shrubs might have been traded through Corinth but seem to be a bit of a stretch and there's not an etymology I can find.

    I'd agree with the last two people to comment (Anonymous and Paul Dormer). Currants are very specific and you said "get the currants" and were expecting me to hand you redcurrants or blackcurrants and didn't have currants available it would be a definite WTF? moment. You need to reeducate poor Grover on how us weird Brits use our mother tongue I think. You might be equally shocked when I handed you dried fruit instead of berries!

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. According to Wikipedia, BrE "currant" = AmE "Zante currant". For what it's worth, I've never seen the latter in the US, although they are apparently available from Sun Maid".

    According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the French called {Zante} currants raisins de Corinthe, and the word "currant" is itself a corruption of French Corinthe. Black- and red- currants were named later by analogy.

  15. I'll just mention that "Sultana" is the name of a grape variety which in the U.S. is called "Thompson", and that the reason sultanas (AmE golden raisins) are yellow is not that they are made from yellow-green grapes, but that they are treated with sulfur dioxide after drying. So U.S. "raisins" and "golden raisins" are made from the same variety.

  16. I'm from the western US, and found this very interesting because I didn't realize that currants are rare here. I guess I somehow assumed that I don't eat currant products much because I rarely eat jam, jelly, or fruit flavored syrup. I certainly have "always" known about them. During backpacking trips with my family in the 1970's, we joked about plugging hair dryers into currant bushes so we sisters could style our hair.

    (Backpacking seems to mean something different in the UK. For us it was a hiking trip into quite remote, very high mountain areas with only minimal trails, carrying all necessary camping equipment in packs on our backs. It's amazing how much equipment is unnecessary when you have to carry the weight. We didn't bring a tent, so the rule was we didn't have to get up in the morning until the frost melted off our sleeping bags.)

  17. I don't think I've ever seen 'red currant' or 'black currant' written as two words. One would no more do that than write 'straw berry' or 'rasp berry'.

    I had absolutely no idea that they weren't known in the USA and had actually been banned for ecological/agricultural reasons. Useful bit of triv, that.

    The blackcurrant drink Ribena, a cordial which can be drunk cold or hot, is one of the absolutely fundamental, iconic British brands. Although they do now do other flavours too.

  18. Cris - Cassis is French for blackcurrant (and an alcoholic drink made from them), so if you're in Canada that probably explains local use of the term.

  19. This article explains what a currant is (

  20. My version of BrE doesn't quite agree with Paul Dormer and the anonymous comment he was responding to. If there were a bowl on the table with blackcurrants, redcurrants and whitecurrants, I would have no hesitation is saying, 'Look! A bowl of currants'. My mother used to grow currants, and the things she grew were currant bushes, not grape vines.

  21. Currants are used in the UK to make the pudding Spotted Dick.

  22. Andy JS: Indeed, and I just recently made one.

  23. OK, marek, you may well be understood if you say 'that bowl of currants' in full view of a bowl of blackcurrants and redcurrants. But if you say 'Please bring me a a bowl of currants', you'll get a bowl of dark small dried grapes, the ones taking their name from Corinth.

    Personally, I would take black currant and red currant to be careless spelling mistakes.

  24. David, it's not that I will be understood, it's that it's perfectly correct usage (it might be ambiguous, but that's another matter). I agree with you on the spelling of redcurrant and blackcurrant, what I was disputing are the assertions in earlier comments that currant is to redcurrant as cat is to magnificat or horse is to seahorse.

    We would never write straw berries or rasp berries, but they have in common that they are berries. Similarly, redcurrants and blackcurrants have in common that they are currants.

  25. I have occasionally bought and cooked with currants, mostly dried, sometimes fresh. They all looked blackish to me, but their name was never modified by a color name.

    I have occasionally seen blackcurrant and redcurrant jam (jelly?), but mostly outside the U.S., if memory serves. Years ago, when I lived in Israel, we were forced to substitute some sort of currant preserves for cranberry sauce, which was unknown in those parts back then, in an expat Thanksgiving dinner. It never occurred to me until this very moment to wonder about the distinctions between currants, blackcurrants, and redcurrants. And I'm only spelling the latter two closed up because Lynne says it's correct. I had no idea.

    Born in California, live there now. There's a native California currant (Ribes) that's grown as an ornamental. Birds love it.

  26. AmE here... From this comment section I've learned that cassis is French for blackcurrant. That word is on a label in my liquor cabinet, which is the closest I've come to consuming blackcurrants. Currants are a dried fruit I associate with not very appetizing Christmas-related desserts.

  27. Also American, in the Midwest: I have a pint of red currants (my instincts are to put the space in) that I bought a week or two ago from one of the more adventurous fruit-growers at my local farmer's market, sitting in my fridge because I have no idea what to do with them. And I had no idea until today that they were a different fruit from the dried currants I buy to put in scones and oatmeal.

  28. The idea of having a "pint of redcurrants" is what astonishes me. Surely, the number you get depends on how squashed they are.

    Around here, fruit is sold by weight. The punnet of strawberries I purchased this weekend was marked as 300g. Can you have a pint of apples? Of bananas?

  29. @Paul Dormer: Selling fruit by volume is certainly not unknown in the UK. Sure, at a supermarket, there will be a weight put to a punnet (though if every 300g punnet is actually 300g I'll eat those strawberries--which I'm really not a fan of). But at a greengrocer in the local market many things are sold by the bowl (and I've seen more than one person disappointed to find that they don't get to keep the bowl--the fruit/veg is dumped into a paper bag). Similarly, the farmer's market sells berries by the punnet, without specifying the weight. Americans just specify a package size rather than talking about 'punnets' (see the link in first sentence for the post where I cover 'punnet').

  30. TheAnonymousFromBefore19 September, 2016 12:57

    "it's not that I will be understood, it's that it's perfectly correct usage (it might be ambiguous, but that's another matter)"

    Is there really such thing as perfectly correct in language? It's all subjective. I will retract my previous claim that the currant as raisin is the only possible definition in British English, because clearly that's not universally true. But to me a mixed bowl of red- and blackcurrants being described as a bowl of currants is...I suppose more akin to a bowl of "crisps" being described as a bowl of "chips". It's not wrong, for millions of native speakers it's the more natural choice. Nevertheless is someone said it to me my first reaction would be "that's not a bowl of chips", in my mind it is incorrect.

    "We would never write straw berries or rasp berries, but they have in common that they are berries. Similarly, redcurrants and blackcurrants have in common that they are currants."

    Blackcurrants and redcurrants are also both berries, which is the more broad noun I'd personally opt for if required to pick one that covered both. A gooseberry has more in common with a blackcurrant than a raspberry after all.

  31. Living next door to a Tesco, I only ever buy fruit at a supermarket. :-)

    Still, I have memories of my mother buy stuff at greengrocers back in the fifties and it being weighed on one of those magnificent balances they had then.

    Can't tell you how much the punnet actually weighed as I've eaten them all. There was a period back in the sixties when my father grew his own strawberries that we had them so often - it seemed like we would be having what was left for Christmas dinner in place of pudding - that I got sick of them, but not now.

  32. I was not not misinformed.The ORD confirms that the word currant does come from Corinth --Pld

  33. NZE now BrE...

    We have black and red currants in NZ but they're not that common (mostly home-grown rather than mass-produced shop-bought)and I've never thought about the spelling. I guess the way I've written this sentence says it all.

    Similarly, I dont ever remember cooking with currants in NZ. I'm disappointed to find out they're just grapes! I thought things like Christmas pudding were made with raisins - and they probably are in NZ. Just done a quick google search and NZ Xmas pudding recipes often specify just 'dried fruit' but some specify currants. Regardless, we always had pavlova at Xmas when I was growing up.

    And in response to Cathy, Bonne Maman Blackcurrant Jam is THE BEST JAM EVER!

  34. Just looked up currant in the OED. Seems the first use of currants for Ribes rubrum is in 1578, when they were also called red gooseberries and bastard corinths, 200 years after the first citation for raisins of Corinth. And there is a note in the entry of various people saying at that time that calling them currants is an error. This dispute seems to have been going on for a long time.

  35. I now know a great deal more about currants (and -currants) than I did a bit ago. I (AmE) knew of their existence, but really nothing more.

    While reading through the discussion, I was put in mind of chokecherries, which are, of course, no sort of cherry. And they're also a joined up compound, with the appropriate stress. As with -currants, they also make remarkably good jams and jellies. (I'd recommend strongly, though, that you not try to eat them off the plant.)

  36. As an immigrant from Russia to the US 25 years ago, I can't say for certain that I knew anything about currants until reading this post. I vaguely recall reading about them somewhere (perhaps in supermarket advertisements), but that's it. So after reading this post, as I sometimes do after learning of new (to me) words, I checked Wikipedia to see what the Russian name for these things was (it's Smorodina). And wow, I am definitely familiar with them, including that they come in red and black (not white, though, that's news to me), and that I didn't like them, at least raw (Jellies and jams of any sort are much harder to dislike because sugar). That last fact might explain why I don't know of them in English, since I make it my business to know English words for foods I like, even if they're rare in the US (how many people know what slippery jacks are?).

  37. There's a similar stress issue about a Blackbird, which is a common bird in British gardens. It is one word with one stress on the first syllable. A black bird, i.e. some other sort of bird that happened to be black, like a crow, is stressed as two separate words.

    On grapes, even though black grapes and red grapes are the same thing etc shouldn't one either pair them as 'black grapes and 'white grapes' or 'red grapes' and 'green grapes'?

  38. I looked up currant in the OED before Paul Dormer, but failed to post. I was on moving train, which didn't help. But what really screwed things up is the new Apple IOS virtual keyboard. It's split in two, and can't be moved when obscuring what you're writing, which makes my iPad horrendously difficult to post with.

    The bare facts are as Paul reports, but i detect an interesting historical narrative behind them.

    1. The first people to read and write about currants in England were Normans who knew more about fruit than etymology. Instead off the mainland French term raisin de Corinthe 'raisins of Corinth', they wrote raisins de corauntz. With their ties to continental France, they were aware of the connection between grapes and currants.

    2. By some indeterminate time before 1500, literate inhabitants of England had lost the French connection. The word raisin was increasingly dropped, and the less French-looking spelling corraunce was adopted.

    3. With the spellings corantes, currants, and corans, currence, currans an increasingly literate English speaking population referred to the dried sweet things with diminishing awareness that they had anything to do with grapes.

    4. Some time after, and certainly before 1578, the Ribes nigrum and Ribes rubrum fruits were introduced from Northern Europe. Insular English speakers assumed, falsely, that they were the fruit from which currants were produced. Hence the names black currants and red currants.

    5. Herbalists, who knew and cared about such things — and who also liked to vaunt their knowledge — informed the ignorant reading public that currants were different from the Ribes fruits, and took their name from Corinth. Thus wring in 1578, Thomas Lyte supplies two quotes:
    i. The smal Raysens which are commonly called Corantes, but more rightly Raysens of Corinthe.
    ii. The first kinde is called..Ribes rubrum; in English Redde Gooseberries, Bastard Corinthes.
    The OED names two other writers who protested at this confusion.

    6. Nonetheless, the terms and spellings black currants and red currants became standard. At the time of the OED First Edition, these two-word spellings persisted, and the single word currants was familiarly modified to grocers' currants or shop currants.

  39. In the century following the original OED treatment, I believe there were changes based not on botany or horticulture but the marketing of food.

    1. The greengrocery trade, and the jam and condiment manufacturers rejected the two-word spellings in favour of blackcurrant and redcurrant.

    2. The grocery trade employed wide scale marketing of dried-grape currants associated with but distinct from sultanas and raisins. When I was a little boy, the three were clearly distinguished:

    currants small and dark
    sultanas larger and lighter in colour
    raisins bigger still and with seeds

    Since then, the distinction has become blurred, especially between sultanas and raisins — largely due to imports of California raisins. I remember the fuss that was made of raisins without seeds. Nowadays I believe they're all seedless.

    And I remember when what are now called white seedless grapes were known as sultana grapes.

  40. Boris Zakharin

    The Russian for currants (and equally for sultanas and raisins) is изюм.

    I forget which part of Russia you're from. Up in the North, people are very familiar blackcurrants and redcurrants. The latter isn't much used in Britain to make jam; rather it's strained and combined with gelatine to make a condiment — redcurrant jelly, which is served to accompany meat.

    The Russian technique of jam-making produces something suitably sweet. With blackcurrants, my late mother-in-law didn't even use heat; she mashed them with sugar to produce something called витамин.

    1. NOOOO, David Crosbie, you do NOT make redcurrant jelly with gelatine, any more than jam is made with it. "Jelly" in this context is made similarly to jam, but the fruit is boiled up first with no sugar and then strained through muslin overnight before the resulting juice is measured, and sugar added in judicious proportion. After this, it is made exactly like jam. Redcurrant jelly is a classic with lamb, but blackberry-and-apple is as nice....

    2. See my retraction below dated 20 September.

  41. Boris Zakharin

    And yes, I do know what slippery jacks (маслята) are. My wife used to pick them on the campus of Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh.

    (For onlookers, we're talking about a rather slimy wild mushroom.)

  42. Lynne, in my speech (and, I believe, more generally) the stress depends on the syntax.

    As premodifiers, (e.g. blackcurrant jam, redcurrant jelly they're stressed like ↘BLACKbird, ↘REDwing.

    As head nouns they're stressed black↘CURRant, red↘CURRant.

  43. I am not the least bit familiar with currants, whether red, black, white or dried nor do I recall ever seeing or tasting any products made from them. Today in my regular American grocery store, nestled among the many typical varieties of grapes sold there, I spotted 1-lb. packages of fresh black currants selling for $4. They may have been available for ages but they never caught my eye until today. The package read "Black Corinth Grapes/Les Raisins Noirs de Corinthe" and they were grown in Reedley, California.

  44. Jane Elizabeth

    If you strip those grapes from the bunch and leave them to dry in the sun, then and only then you'll have what we Brits call currants.

  45. David Crosbie, so the dried version is called a currant (just the word currant), but the fresh are called redcurrant, blackcurrant, whitecurrant? Is that correct? Funny how this is such foreign territory to me! I'm learning something new.

  46. Another fruit that makes excellent jam, jelly, sauce for ice cream, is the blackberry, a multi-lobed fruit that grows on vines and is typically harvested from wild plants in British hedgerows at this time of year (cultivated varieties are also available). They are sweet, black, and similar in shape to raspberries.
    Notably, the -berry in strawberry, raspberry, blackberry is pronounced 'brie' in BrE. However, the raspberry-like loganberry seems to be pronounced as if it is two separate words.

  47. Jane Elizabeth

    Not quite. The fresh, undried form of currants I'd call grapes.

    There are other fruits, unrelated to grapes, that are called redcurrants and blackcurrants.

    And, to comment on an earlier post, if I saw a bowl of redcurrants and blackcurrants, I'd say it was a bowl of berries.

  48. Jane Elizabeth

    The dried and fresh things are not variants of each other; they are completely different fruits.

    Black currants and redcurrants — an those whitecurrants that Lynne chooses to forget about — are all fresh. They're of the family Ribes and grow on bushes in clusters of fruit a bit smaller than blueberries or cranberries — much smaller than the big cultivated blueberries and cranberries. They're not very sweet (the redcurrant is particularly acid) and the seeds are relatively large. If we do eat them fresh, we tend to mix them with sweeter soft fruit that's ripe within the same season, a mixture sometimes called summer fruits.

    Blackcurrants make a very good preserve who boiled and reduced with sugar. The flavour is more attractive when sweetened, and the seeds are full of a substance called pectin, which causes the liquid to set to a relatively firm semi-solid which can flow a little and spreads nicely on bread and stuff. We call preserves like this jam, though I know that at least some Americans call them jelly. For us it's only jelly if it's clear and totally non-flowing. And jelly is what we make of redcurrants. Before cooling the mixture is strained through a jelly bag made of muslin. I said in an earlier posting that gelatine is added, but I was wrong. Redcurrant seeds hold a huge amount of pectin, so the strained liquid solidifies to a jelly unaided.

    Blackcurrant jam is easier to make at home than other jams because of the pectin. And it's full of flavour because it needs less sugar than other fruits. Redcurrant jelly needs even less sugar, so it's often used not as a sweet spread but as an accompaniment to roast meat.

    Blackcurrants are particularly rich in vitamin C, and the taste of the sweetened fruit appeals to children. So a sweet blackcurrant liquid called Ribena that you dilute in water has been very successfully marketed as a health drink that children love.

    Currants as we use the word nearly all the time are not fresh and have nothing in common with the Ribes fruit apart from the size and a colour similar to that of blackcurrants. They are the dried form of this grapes you saw, a different fruit altogether. When not dried, we simply call them 'grapes'.

  49. Red grape juice doesn't have a lot of character. OK, Concord grape juice is a bit more interesting, but basically grape juice is a simple sweet drink — and sometimes the cheaper basis for other juice drinks.

    Sweetened blackcurrant juice has a more distinct flavour, and one that has been marketed with great success.

    In Britain the selling points have been the vitamin C content and the appeal to children (see above).

    In France the appeal has been more adult-directed. For a long time, blackcurrant juice was blended with sugar to produce a non-alcoholic (or low alcohol) syrup de cassis and an alcoholic liqueur called crème de cassis. Then the mayor of Dijon, Canon Félix Kir, hit on an idea to boost sales of the less popular white wine of the surrounding region of Burgundy.

    The French plant wine grapes that suit the terroir — an extremely local combination of soil and micro-climate. Not all Burgundy terroirs suit the chardonnay grape, so aligoté is planted instead. Aligoté wine sells less well, but Mayor Kir found they could shift more of it by promoting an apéritif (before-meal drink) combining the wine with a touch of crème de cassis, which is also produced locally.

    The drink became extremely popular, and now any similar combination of white wine and crème de cassis is called kir. I've known British restaurants use red wine and still call it kir. It's the sweet blackcurrant flavour that counts.

  50. Ribena (and the preference for blackcurrants generally in the UK) was reinforced during the war:

    "During the Second World War, other fruits rich in vitamin C, like oranges, became almost impossible to obtain in the United Kingdom, due to the U boat campaign. Blackcurrant cultivation was encouraged by the Government, and the yield of the nation's crop increased significantly. From 1942, almost the entire British blackcurrant crop was made into blackcurrant syrup (or cordial), almost all of it manufactured by Carters, and distributed to the nation's children for free without the Ribena brand name, giving rise to the lasting popularity of blackcurrant flavourings in Britain." (from wikipedia).

    To this day, the vast majority (and in some years all) of the UK's commercial blackcurrant production is used to make Ribena; most of the other blackcurrants you can buy as fruit in the UK come from Poland these days.

  51. Blackcurrants are particularly rich in vitamin C, and the taste of the sweetened fruit appeals to children

    And adults.

  52. Biochemist - we have blackberries in the US, but we don't have hedgerows. (One of the most fascinating aspects of this blog is what people think will need explanation on the other side of the Atlantic versus what actually does--e.g. hedgerows v. blackberries.)

  53. @Paul Dormer

    Yes, you could buy apples by volume (and coal too !)

    Before scales were commonly available this was usual in markets.

    Compare the American convention of cooking recipes with everything in cups.

    And for fifty years and more - all my lifetime - the British sale of goods law required 'soft fruit' to be sold by weight. This was ignored by every greengrocer - they sold by the punnet (little basket) and I never saw a package of strawberries with a weight until we had supermarkets.

    Selling by the 'bowl' is a continuation of this scofflaw policy.

  54. Growing up in Scotland I have a huge love of blackcurrants and have both red and black in my garden in the north of Canada, where they thrive (currants are very tough) although making them edible in jam takes a lot of sugar. The currants that you use in baking are also popular at my house, particularly in butter tarts, but I never confused them with blackcurrents or redcurrents because in Canada, where food products are labelled in French as well as English, they are clearly identified as "raisin de Corinthe" underlining that Levantine connection.

  55. Michael Dolbear:

    I'm a physicist by training and I recall a device called a eureka can that we used at school to measure irregular volumes (using Archimedes principle, of course), and I now have visions of greengrocers using these to measure the volumes of their apples. :-)

    I remember coal being delivered in sacks of one hundredweight, 112lbs. Indeed, I recall school lessons where we had units of weight drummed into us: 16 ounces = 1 pound, 14 pounds = 1 stone, 2 stone = 1 quarter, 4 quarters = 1 hundredweight, 20 hundredweight= 1 ton. And we were always being told one hundredweight was the weight of a sack of coal.

    I have a number of American recipe books, but fortunately I have found websites that will convert cups into what I find more useful measurements. I've annotated my favourite recipes with notes telling me what half a cup of flour is in real money.

  56. I have a number of American recipe books, but fortunately I have found websites that will convert cups into what I find more useful measurements. I've annotated my favourite recipes with notes telling me what half a cup of flour is in real money.

    My favourite baffling US measurement is butter. British butter isn't divided into sticks, and why on earth would you use a tablespoon to measure something that is cut with a knife?

  57. Ginger Yellow

    My mother used her eyes to measure ingredients. You can't see a tablespoonful of flour without an actual tablespoon, but she could look at a lump of butter and know whether or not it was a virtual tablespoonful.

    For greater precision, it wan't so very stupid to use a physical tablespoon. Remember that people didn't have fridges unless they were unusually rich. (I'm talking about the time before Harold Macmillan told us we'd never had it so good.) The butter in your average kitchen (the one room that was heated all day) was considerably softer than the blocks we cook with today.

  58. David Crosbie

    Indeed, my mother seemed to know exactly what amount of a table spoon corresponded to an ounce of flour or sugar. And butter came in 8 oz slabs. It was fairly easy to divide that into 4 oz, 2 oz etc. I think the wrapping may even have been marked. Nowadays, I can probably guess 50g of a 250g slab of butter by eye.

    American recipes often require fractions of a cup of butter, which I wouldn't know how to measure if the butter came straight from the fridge. Another one to look up on a website.

    So, a cup of butter is almost a 250g slab.

  59. US butter is most often sold in 4 oz./0.25 lb. (approximately 113 g) sticks. Typically, these are sold four to a 1 lb. package. These sticks are paper-wrapped and the wrapper is often marked for ease of measurement, as here (though markings vary):$file/butter_stick-ps-03.jpg

    Which is off topic for this post, sorry.

  60. Redcurrants are essential to Cumberland sauce, one of those British culinary items that even the French accept as a genuine contribution to the world of fine food. It's one of those nineteenth-century things that could only be a product of empire, combining as it does the fruit with port wine, mustard, ginger, orange zest and pepper. It was contrived as an accompaniment to game and goes very well with Cumberland sausage not surprisingly, but as there's nothing in it unacceptable to vegetarians there's no reason not to serve it with vegetarian savoury dishes.

    I grew up in a house with a couple of mature blackcurrant bushes in the garden so summers (in those days before domestic freezers) were a constant stream of blackcurrant pies, crumbles and ice-cream sauce as well as home-made jam afterwards. None the worse for that, but it's almost impossible to get hold of fresh blackcurrants in the supermarket. I believe the difficulty for commercial cultivators is that the bush is resistant to mechanised harvesting.

  61. If the taxonomy is confusing in BrE, it gets more confusing when we try to understand how the French do it. Not only is blackcurrant a completely different word from redcurrant (cassis vs. groseille), but groseille may mean any of red- or whitecurrants or gooseberries, and not always with an explanatory adjective (though I have seen gooseberries labelled as groseille maquereau=mackerel, though whether that's for the variegated skin pattern, or because they go well with the fish, I don't know).

  62. Tangentially related [apologies if this is too off topic!] to the stress of compound words or phrases, and probably more applicable to US / Australian English since there's a preponderance of examples, but I've noticed that place names with the word "New" at the start almost always have the stress on the place name following EXCEPT if the word following "New" is a noun and not a place-name, if that makes any sense? So it would be New JERSEY, New HAMPSHIRE, New BRUNSWICK, but NEW Haven [though I understand that city's residents actually do say 'New HAVEN' even if no one else does], NEW Castle, NEW South Wales, NEW City (suburb of N.Y.)... Lynne, what do you make of that?

    1. Well, in the case of Newcastle (one word), the original is a city in the north-east of England, but understand that it was new about a thousand years ago. Plenty time for the adjective "new" to sink into the name and lose its value as a descriptor. It's pronounced nyerCASSel by us locals.

    2. New Haven is a total shibboleth for Connecticutians. While I generally try not to be a prescriptivist, it's our city, and everyone else is saying it wrong. It's New HAVen.

  63. (^^^ to clarify: "common noun" since of course all place names are nouns)

  64. Doug Sundseth

    It occurred to me after I posted that at 227g for a cup of butter, that is exactly half a pound.

  65. In a previous post, I mentioned sticks of butter as something I missed from the US. This was before I'd realized that butter wrappers in the UK are marked with measurements too. But I still find the measurements they're marked with pretty useless (50g, 100g, 150g, 200g)--deciding where to slice to get 60g stresses me out a bit, esp if the brick of butter was misshapen in transit. (Something that more rarely happens with sticks of butter, because they're transported in a box.)

    So then you have to get out the kitchen scale(s)... Cups are great because you can put them in the dishwasher.

    1. My kitchen scales will discount the weight of any container, from a saucepan to a saucer, so you can weigh things as you are going to use them.... and put them in the dishwasher afterwards! To get back to topic, something delicious to make with red- and blackcurrants is summer pudding.....

  66. The butter question is easy, and I think the answer is the same all over the US. A cup of butter is two of the quarter-pound "cubes," which are not cubical. Here in California we have native blackberries, grapes, and huckleberries (a type of blueberry; the same name refers to other fruit in other regions). California's Central Valley is an enormous, very rich agricultural area, in spite of its chronic lack of water. American raisins are from Thompson seedless grapes, generally grown in California on our native rootstock. I first learned the name "currant" for a red currant that my grandmother had in her back yard. It was years later that I learned about the dried ones, which are not common here. Is a whitecurrant same thing as a gooseberry?
    I notice that BrE speakers tend to think Americans buy everything by the cup. Nope. We don't buy anything by the cup. Milk might be by the quart or gallon, but everything else is by weight, in pounds and ounces. Soft drinks and small water bottles are metric. I only pull out my kitchen scale for canning.

  67. Julie

    I don't think anyone has said Americans buy items by the cup. I did find it odd when someone said they had a pint of redcurrants. I would never measure fruit by volume and would tend to give the weight of fruit I had for something like that.

    It's the use of cups in recipe I think many British find slightly odd. In British recipes, liquids would be given by volume (millilitres or fractions of a pint) and small quantities might be given in teaspoons and tablespoons, but bulk dry stuff - flour, sugar, butter, even currants - would appear in recipes by weight. (The physicist in me wants to say mass would be better than weight.)

    Which reminds me of one of my all-time favourite correction in a paper. In the cooking section of The Independent one Saturday they started, "Last week's recipe for a chocolate cake should have started, 'Take 125g each of flour, sugar and butter.'" I still had the previous week's paper and I looked to see what they'd actually said. It began, "Take 25g each..." The correction then went on to report that readers who'd actually tried the recipe got a very small, very rubbery cake.

  68. I have recipes inherited from my grandmother that involve cups and half-cups of flour, sugar, etc - and indeed a Christmas pudding(BrE) described as a "7-cup pudding". She was Scottish and had no connections to the US. I have always assumed that cups were used in recipes before kitchen scales became cheap and universal.

    1. I think this is right, my Grandmother from Suffolk, was too poor to own scales so she baked using a teacup for measuring.

    2. I still have some of my mother's (born 1922) recipes cut from magazines that specify a breakfast cup or a teacup of flour etc. I just guess that people drank more tea at breakfast than at other times.

    3. Forgot to specify that those were British recipes.

  69. I guess so, but I've been cooking from recipes for fifty years and never seen cups outside US recipes. I remember my mother's kitchen scales from the fifties.

  70. I've occasionally seen references to tea- or breakfast-cups as a measure in British recipes from the early 20th century.
    I also remember, as a child in the '60s, my parents laughing because my father's elderly aunt had said "I know this cup holds half a pound".

  71. In very old recipes, both English and American, often there are non-standard measures, basically the teaspoons, soup spoons and cups of the original writer's. I think you have to go back to before about 1920 to see a lot of those, but I'm sure many families still have them. Modern American recipes use a standard cup which is equal to a half-pint, and tablespoons and teaspoons which are established fractions of a cup. Plastic measuring cups and spoons come in sets and can be bought for a dollar or three.

  72. Julie

    Modern American recipes use a standard cup which is equal to a half-pint

    Half an American pint, Julie. Ours are different.

    1. As a rule of thumb, a US cup is roughly 250 ml, which helps.

  73. In Australia, we stress the second syllable, and would only ever talk about it in relation to Ribena.

    And just FTR, what Americans call raisins, we Australians call sultanas. And dried fruit mix contains both sultanas (fat juicy things) and currants (shrivelled-up, black, tasteless things).

  74. So then you have to get out the kitchen scale(s)... Cups are great because you can put them in the dishwasher.

    You can also put small plates or bowls in the dishwasher. You just have to zero the scale before you put the butter on them.

  75. Referring way back to my previous mention of blackberries growing in hedgerows: British gardens typically have neat hedges around their boundaries, comprising multiples of shrubs such as privet, box, lonicera, laurel, all planted close together and then trimmed regularly to make a robust prickly barrier.
    Here in the countryside, fields are bounded by hedgerows: a similar entity, but in the 200-300 years (or more!) since their original planting, the monoculture (e.g. holly or beech) has usually been colonised by other species such as hazel, willow, nettles, bracken, wild rose, and of course brambles - the blackberry plant. And many birds, insects and small insects.

    Pronunciation of -berry: STRAW-b'ry, RASP-b'ry, Black-b'ry, but logan-berry and Tay-berry. And gooseberry is pronounced GUzb'ry by many Brits (sorry, I can't do proper phonetics!)

  76. On the subject of blackberries, I call the fruit as well as the plant "brambles" which is Scots English usage. So I'd speak of "bramble jelly", "bramble and apple crumble" etc.

  77. I put the mixing bowl on the scales, zero it and then just add everything as it stands. Even less washing up.

  78. David Crosby 20 September, 2016 13:57:

    ...We call preserves like this jam, though I know that at least some Americans call them jelly...

    Just to clarify, it's not that BrEng "jam" = AmEng "jelly"; it's that in America we have two similar (but different) products called "jam" and "jelly". Apparently the latter isn't found in the UK. Or if it is found over there, maybe you'd just call it "jam". In fact, we have three similar (but different) fruit products if you throw "fruit preserves" into the mix. "Jam" is a fruit spread with pieces of fruit in it. "Jelly" is a fruit spread that's completely smooth; I believe it's basically fruit juice made spreadable. I'm not exactly sure what "fruit preserves" are. But most Americans use all three for the same things AFAIK, i.e., they are used in peanut butter and "jelly" (PB&J) sandwiches, spread on toast, (American!) biscuits, "English" muffins, scones, etc. Now, a few Americans may refer to two or three of these things as "jelly", but they apparently don't understand or don't care about the distinction between them. But I bet the blogmaster has already covered this subject in tremendous depth. I will leave this comment somewhere else if he/she would like.

  79. My feeling is that in the UK, although we have fruit spreads that are called "jellies" we'd still call them jam, a preserve is a posh word for jam. But confusion arises because the default meaning of jelly in the UK is the gelatine dessert that has the trade name Jello in the US

    1. The jelly version of jam in BrE is where it is clear with no bits of the fruit.

  80. I know a range of names for a confection of fruit, sugar, water and heat — of which only a subset is used in any dialect of English.

    1. Stewed fruit Small fruits or pieces of large fruits in a free-flowing loose syrup.

    2. Compote The British English use of this French word is to denote a really heavy, but still flowing, syrup with fruit solids.

    3. Purée Another English use of a French word. The fruit is mashed or otherwise homogenised, to produce a semi-solid.

    4. Coulis Used, I think, as the French use the word — a heavy clear syrup with no solids, used as a sort of sauce.

    5. Варенье (varenye) A Russian term for Russia's favourite variant of 'jam'. The fruit is stewed so carefully that whole pieces (small fruits or pieces of larger) are firm and intact is a really heavy clear syrup. (The trick is to bring it to the boil and immediately remove the heat, doing this repeatedly until it's at the right thickens.) Varenye is spreadable, not as flowing as as compote.

    6. Soft set jam Most familiar under the Bonne Maman brand. This too is spreadable rather than flowing but the fruit pieces are far from intact. The non-solid element is firmer and not at all clear.

    7. Jam A typical British jam is not just spreadable; a lump of it will hold its shape. This may or may not have solids. From what Henry Wilson says, this may be the difference between American jam and American jelly.

    6. Paste Homogenised like purée but reduced to a stiff spread.

    7. Jelly In British English clear and almost solid. A square of it will hold not only its shape but also its straight edges.


    at the right thickens

    should be

    at the right thickness

  82. Reminds me of an essay I read by the Dutch physicist Hendrik Casimir, actually part of a speech about the difference between science and technology.

    He claimed that he was at breakfast in an hotel in Istanbul and overheard an English lady asking the waiter for marmalade. She was brought a tray of fruit preserves which she dismissed. "Oh, no, those are jam, not marmalade." This amused Casimir, because to a Dutchman, marmalade was a type of jam. It's made by boiling crushed or cut up fruit with sugar. An Englishman will explain jam and marmalade are totally different things.

  83. Marmalade was, I believe, originally more a paste the what we'd call a jam , and made with quinces rather than Seville oranges.

    What happened in Britain is that the Seville orange version became an industrial product in the nineteenth century and clever marketing fixed it in our heads and our hearts as an essential component of breakfast. This, I believe, puts it in a different mental category to jams, which are firmly associated with afternoon tea.

    The initial marketing was a little odd. My grandfather told a joke that must have been old when he was a boy. Marmalade was being promoted as a delicious alternative to butter, and a woman wrote to Keillors of Dundee to complain of the result when she fried her kippers in it.

    Nowadays there's a range of products made from different citrus fruits. Some resemble jams but others are more like jellies, or something close to pastes. And the jam-like ones vary in thickness. The only features that unite them are the fact that they're made of citrus and — in almost every case — the inclusion of cooked peel.

    The word orange is famously a mishearing of a norange, and the naranja that we originally encountered from Spain was presumably the bitter fruit we now call a Seville orange, which is pretty well inedible unless shredded boiled with sugar and water. When we lived in Egypt, we learned two words: naring for Seville orange and burtu'an (derived from 'Portuguese') for sweet oranges.

  84. My division between jellies, jams and marmalades (that come in jars) is that jellies are the set juice. There are stiff jellies which are a component of puddings, and spreadable jellies, such as redcurrant jelly. But I think they are pretty nearly only made from redcurrant and blackcurrants because normal soft fruit jams use the fruit rather than the juice. Marmalades are generally made from citrus fruit peel. I put generally because I have a memory of giner marmalade, but this may be totally wrong.

    Preserrves, in my mind, would be solid fruit rather then fruit suspended in a sugar/water/juice mix.

  85. Rachel, that raises the question of what we mean by juice.

    For me, juice is the liquid extracted from uncooked fruit. I don't think the sort of jellies we're talking about use that sort of liquid. Surely the trick is to extract as much flavour from the fruit by boiling/stewing it, and then to strain off a clear liquid.

    I've never encountered ginger marmalade —— although it's easy to imagine what it would be like. Think stem ginger in syrup and add gelatine. Actually, it would be easier to make a ginger-flavoured citrus marmalade and substitute shreds of stem ginger for the the peel.

    Strangely, the only non-citrus marmalade that seems to be at all popular is onion marmalade.

    Quince marmalade is, I think, no more. But quince makes a delicious spreadable when turned into Russian varenye .

    1. Also available are chilli marmalade and bacon marmalade, also called jam in both cases. Bacon jam is essentially onion marmalade with the headline ingredient added.

      I love ginger marmalade! It is made not from stem but root ginger, which is so strong that very little is needed. Sainsbury's, which calls it ginger 'preserve' and describes it as a jam, has just 19% ginger (and no other fruit or fruit juice), compared to 30-40% orange for marmalade and anything upward of that for other fruit jams and preserves. I have definitely bought ginger marmalade in the past; maybe not after the 1981 diktat mentioned in David's next comment. I have always accepted it as a marmalade because its tang makes it closer to breakfast marmalade than to the sweet jams served at teatime.

  86. The OED definition of marmaladeis historically thorough and, in this case, recently updated

    1 a. Originally: †a preserve consisting of a sweet, solid, quince jelly resembling chare de quince (see CHARE n.4) but with the spices replaced by flavourings of rose water and musk or ambergris, and cut into squares for eating; (in the 17th cent., occas.) a thick, apple-based jelly containing shredded citrus peel ( obs.). Subsequently: a conserve made by boiling fruits (now usually oranges and other citrus fruits) in water to release the pectin around the seeds, then reboiling the liquid and fruit with sugar to form a consistent mass, typically containing embedded shreds of rind. Also: a preparation of similar consistency made with other ingredients, such as a sweet preserve of diced ginger in a jelly set with apple pectin, or a relish made by cooking vegetables with sugar and vinegar.

    Often with the name of the fruit or other dominant ingredient prefixed, as apricot, ginger, lemon, onion, orange, quince marmalade . When none is specified, orange marmalade is now usually meant; this may then be prefixed by a word denoting the style or type of orange marmalade, as diabetic, Dundee, Scotch marmalade. Oxford marmalade: see OXFORD n. 1a.

    Since 1981, European Community regulations have restricted commercial use of the term to preserves made with citrus fruit.

  87. A character in Anthony Burgess's Earthly Powers gives a delightful cod etymology for marmalade.

    It appears Mary, Queen of Scots had a French cook. Whenever she had a stomach upset, she found that having her favourite dish of stewed quinces settled things. So, whenever this happened, her servant would tell the cook, "Marie est malade."

  88. I've heard it alleged that marmalade got its name because it was used to mitigate sea sickness!

    Quince jam is sharp like marmalade and so goes well for breakfast.

    I've never heard of ginger marmalade, but ginger does of course go very well with rhubarb as a jam.

    I'm sure you can't cook kippers in marmalade as a substitute for butter, but it might work on the side of ones plate once they are cooked. Marmalade goes well with sausages used that way.

    1. My Father in Law ate sausages with marmalade, but that was a criticism of the bread content of the sausages he ate at boarding school.

  89. The true etymology as outlined in the OED seems beyond doubt.

    Ancient Greek had the words
    • μῆλον (mēlon) 'apple or similar fruit'
    • μέλι (meli) 'honey

    Hellenistic Greek compounded them variously
    • μηλόμελι (mēlomeli) 'variety of sweet apple'
    • μελίμηλον (melimēlon) 'summer apple' or 'apple grafted onto quince'

    Classical Latin used the Greek words to form
    mēlomeli 'honey flavoured with quinces'
    melimēla Latinised plural form of the 'summer apple' Greek word

    Post-classical Latin
    malomellum 'quince' or 'sweet apple'

    marmelo 'quince'
    marmelada 'quince marmalade'

    1. Technical

      This is not a reply to myself on the etymology of marmalade. It's a test to see where its notification comes from my old subscription or my new one.

      [Posted through Reply]

  90. I love rhubarb and ginger jam, despite not liking rhubarb as a dessert. The ginger hides the taste of the rhubarb and the rhubarb gives the jam body.

    Not quite kippers and marmalade, but last year I was staying in an hotel in Spokane, WA. If you ordered the American breakfast in the restaurant, it came with two identical white porcelain pots. One contained strawberry jam and the other tomato ketchup. They were identical shades of red. If you looked very carefully, you could just about make out the shape of a strawberry in one of them.

  91. Technical

    This has nothing to do with blackcurrants. It's a test to see where its notification comes from: my old subscription or my new one.

    [Posted through Add a comment]

  92. I think saying "white currants are from redcurrant bushes" is a bit of a stretch. Red- and whitecurrants may be more closely related to each other than to blackcurrants, but no matter how long you leave a whitecurrant on the bush it won't turn red, or vice versa.

    The bushes are, however, similar enough when not fruiting that garden centres may sell you the wrong plant by mistake. Wikipedia tells me the whitecurrant is actually an "albino cultivar" of the redcurrant, but I don't plan on calling them "white redcurrants" any time soon.

  93. Saw a jar of Black Currant jam at Safeway in Washington, DC this week. It was Hero brand which I think is Swiss and it was definitely two words.


The book!

Follow by email

View by topic



AmE = American English
BrE = British English
OED = Oxford English Dictionary (online)