Gooseberries and Currants
Gooseberries and currants (Ribes spp.) have enjoyed great popularity in the past, particularly in Europe, where in the 1800s as many as 722 gooseberry varieties were in existence, and "gooseberry clubs" were established by enthusiasts. Most of the European varieties were large fruited and sweet as a result of centuries of selection and breeding, while American types had less desirable flavor and more disease resistance. The gooseberries grown today are primarily hybrids of these two types, offering good flavor as well as disease (mildew) resistance. Although they seldom are eaten fresh due to their tart flavor, both red and white currants make excellent jams and jellies. Gooseberries and currants are woody perennial shrubs that reach a height of 3 to 6 feet when mature. Unlike other fruiting plants, they will tolerate partial shade. Plants are self-fruitful and, therefore, do not require two or more varieties for adequate pollination. Currants and gooseberries also are very winter hardy, tolerating temperatures as low as -22 to -31°F.