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The blackcurrant is a temperate shrub which produces small edible berries with a high natural vitamin C content, which are very dark purple/blue in colour—almost black—hence the name.

Blackcurrants have a slightly bitter taste; some find them unpalatable. They are made into jam, ice cream, cordial and liqueur. In the UK (possibly also elsewhere), many sweets include a blackcurrant flavour, but this is generally missing in North America, even in the same brand. In bars, the blackcurrant cordial is referred to simply as "black", as in "vodka and black", "snakebite and black", "Pernod and black", or "black and lemonade". In North America, blackcurrant cordial is more commonly known as creme de cassis whilst in Britain creme de cassis is an alcoholic blackcurrant liqueur.

When not in fruit, the aspect of the plant is very similar to the redcurrant, however there is a way to distinguish them. The leaves and stems of the blackcurrant have a strong odour reminiscent of cat's urine.

In Britain and Australia a blackcurrant cordial under the brand name of Ribena is principally marketed as a 'healthy' (if extremely sweet) drink for children.

Do not confuse these with the dried fruit called currants which are small raisins (dried grapes).