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Black currant is a unique plant in many ways. Few berry bushes are distinguished by the same unpretentiousness, ease of cultivation and stable productivity. However, you can use not only the berries of this plant. Many gardeners collect currant leaves for drying and then use them for culinary and medicinal purposes.
Useful properties of dried currant leaves
The healing power of black currant fruits has long been known. However, its leaves contain no less nutrients than berries. Many gardeners know about this, therefore, simultaneously with the harvest of berries, young currant leaves are harvested and dried.
Among the useful substances that are contained in them, the following can be noted:
- trace elements;
- essential oils;
- biologically active substances;
- organic acids, etc.
Drying is the easiest and most reliable way to harvest currant leaves for future use. It is important that most of the nutrients remain unchanged. In the future, such dried plant raw materials are used for the preparation of decoctions, infusions and vitamin tea.
When is it better to collect currant leaves for drying
The content of nutrients in currant leaves reaches its highest concentration during the flowering period. It is at this time that it is best to produce them for drying. However, this does not mean that the currant leaf cannot be harvested at other times. Experienced herbalists harvest the material gradually, throughout the season, carefully selecting and discarding it.
Important! For those who are guided by the lunar calendar, the growing moon will be the best time to harvest a currant leaf for drying.
In order not to weaken the currant bush before fruiting, do not pick off too many leaves before harvesting. The main amount of plant materials should be picked only after all the berries have been harvested. In addition, the harvesting should be postponed if the currants were treated the day before against diseases and pests with fungicides or pesticides.
How to properly collect currant leaves for drying
For drying, currant leaves are harvested on a fine day, in the morning, while there is no bright sun. It is necessary to carefully cut them off together with the petioles, while rejecting the damaged ones. Do not take dirty leaves, as well as those affected by diseases or pests. The leaf plate should be flat, free from yellowness and rot. First of all, the apical leaves of young annual shoots are taken, they are the most juicy and fragrant.
If a lot of raw materials are required, then they are plucked from older branches, paying attention to the quality.
How to dry currant leaves
It is possible to dry the collected currant leaves both in natural conditions and using various heating devices for this. If the drying process is carried out correctly, then the currant leaf will retain its aroma and useful properties.
Weather permitting, currant leaves can be air-dried by spreading them out in the shade in a thin layer. As a substrate, you can use a sheet of clean paper, a metal baking sheet, plywood. The place should be well ventilated, but protected from direct sunlight. The summer veranda of the house, terrace, awning are well suited for drying. In the garden, it is best to use the attic of a country house for this purpose. You can dry currants at home on the windowsill or on the balcony. From above, the pallet with raw materials can be closed with a piece of clean gauze.
Periodically harvested green mass must be agitated and turned over so that it dries evenly. If the air humidity is high, then you need to ensure that mold does not start to appear on the raw materials. Such copies are subject to immediate removal and destruction. Drying in the open air can take quite a long time, as the process is highly dependent on the temperature and humidity of the surrounding air. Sometimes it can take 1-1.5 weeks to completely dry.
Important! Do not dry currant leaves on an old newspaper, as they can absorb harmful substances contained in printing ink.
In the oven
If weather conditions or other circumstances do not allow drying the harvested greens in the open air, then this can be done using the oven. The raw materials are laid out in a small layer on a baking sheet, and then placed in an oven preheated to 100 ° C. After 1.5 hours, the temperature is reduced to 50-60 ° C and the leaves are dried until tender. It should be remembered that the oven door must be constantly ajar during drying so that the moisture can evaporate calmly. It is advisable to turn on the convection mode in the oven (if available).
Important! When drying in the oven, some of the nutrients contained in the plant are lost.
In an electric dryer
In order to dry currant leaves for tea, a standard electric dryer is also quite suitable. Just like in the oven, the raw materials are laid out in a thin layer on a baking sheet and dried with the door ajar at medium temperature. The entire drying process can take 3-4 hours, if during this time the leaves do not acquire characteristic fragility, then the process continues. In this case, the current moisture content of the leaves is checked every half hour.
Often, before drying, currant leaves are fermented. This procedure enhances the aroma of plant materials, and at the same time relieves it of the characteristic smell of hay. In order to start the fermentation mechanism, currant leaves are rolled into a tight tube until the juice is released. The rolled up tubes are placed in a clean dish, covered with a clean piece of cloth and placed under oppression. After a day, when the cell juice contained in the leaves is fermented, the tubules will acquire a strong fruity aroma. After that, they can be taken out, cut into slices and dried in the oven.
Video on how to harvest and dry currant leaves for tea:
Application of dried currant leaf
The most common purpose of dried currant leaves is as a tea infuser. In addition, their infusion can also be used for medical purposes.
The currant leaf is used in many canning recipes. It is added when salting cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, apples, mushrooms. It is preferable to use fresh currant leaves for these purposes, but nothing prevents the use of dried leaves instead, if the greens are no longer on the bushes at this time. Often, dried currant leaves are added to berry fruit drinks and mousses, as well as to alcoholic drinks infused with berries and herbs.
However, most gardeners who harvest dried currant leaves use it for brewing instead of traditional tea. This drink is a wonderful tonic, it is not only tasty, but also healthy.
In folk medicine
The currant leaf has many beneficial properties. Tea made from it strengthens the immune system, has antipyretic and analgesic effects, therefore it is recommended for colds. It is also used as a diuretic. It is recommended to use currant tea for atherosclerosis, diabetes mellitus, anemia. The infusion has bactericidal properties, it can be used externally, as a means for disinfecting wounds. In cosmetology, a decoction of currant leaves is used to wash and cleanse the skin. For the treatment of acne, a mask with gruel made from crushed currant leaves is often used.
Important! The infusion of currant leaves should not be consumed with increased blood clotting, as well as with chronic diseases of the stomach, such as gastritis or peptic ulcer disease.
Terms and conditions of storage of dried currant leaves
Store dried currant leaves in a dry, dark place. So that the prepared raw materials do not lose their aroma, it is better to use tight-fitting ceramic or glass dishes for storage. Such packaging is guaranteed to relieve currant leaves from mixing with extraneous aromas and odors. For storage of plant materials, you can use tight-fitting plastic opaque containers for food products that are sold in hardware stores. They are quite spacious and functional, they are easy to store. At the time of laying the raw materials, the container must be absolutely clean and dry, otherwise mold may develop.
Important! Do not use cabinets located above the stove for storing vegetable raw materials, this is an area of high humidity.
Often, paper bags or canvas bags are used to store dry currant leaves. When storing raw materials, they must be closed or tied, and next to them there should not be any other herbs or spices with a pungent odor. Subject to all storage conditions, dry currant leaves can be stored without loss of medicinal and culinary properties for 3 years. However, in the presence of fresh plant materials, there is no need to keep the blanks for such a long time, therefore, the stock is usually made in such a way that it will be enough until fresh greens appear on the currant bushes.
Important! When storing dry currant leaves in linen bags or paper bags, the contents need to be checked from time to time, sometimes bugs start in such packaging.
Some fans of exotic flavors collect currant leaves for drying, and then mix them with other plant components, for example, dried willow tea or raspberries. Such mixes have not only a rich harmonious taste, they are also much more useful than each individual component. Herbal tea prepared in this way is guaranteed to exist only in a single copy, and its taste and aroma can surprise and delight not only the gardener himself, but also his guests.