Reader Jay T. Stratton from upstate New York sent us a gift in the form of his newly published book, “Pomona’s Lost Children, A Book of Uncommon Antique Fruits.” The book, which is a comfortable mix of memories, facts, trivia and recipes, was a revelation for a variety of reasons. If you grew up in the countryside or with access to a summerhouse or garden in Sweden, you have most likely grown up around red and black currant bushes along with gooseberries, elderberries and all sorts of other fruits that these days, as we’ve learned, are considered super berries.

Ah, the bliss of picking and eating ripe gooseberries from the bush or finding a whole grove of wild raspberries or blackberries, not uncommon outside the urban areas of Sweden. As newly arrived Swedish-Americans living in a somewhat rural suburb in Connecticut, we have yet to see a single currant or gooseberry bush—we did try to grow our own, but alas, the budding young bushes fell under the blade of uninformed lawn mowers. Upon arrival at the local supermarket for the first time you will find no such thing as the black currant jelly so popular with roasts in Sweden in the fall.
Having grown up in upstate New York, it turns out Stratton’s childhood was all about these widely forgotten fruits and berries—and quite a few we weren’t aware of, such as the Jostaberry, the Pawpaw or the Saskatoon. Surely there are still areas of this vast country where all fruits mentioned in this lovely read are still common, but for now we have to settle with the inspiration from Stratton to grow our own.

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Life Made Sweder

The mix of tips on growing, on cooking with memories, mythology and ethnobotany of Pomona’s Lost Children makes it an easy read and the hundreds of recipes are a welcome bonus. /Ulf Barslund Martensson

Here’s a taste from the book:
Currant pie/Vinbärspaj (works equally well with red or black currant or a mix of the two)
This recipe was originally printed in Swedish-American Book of Cookery: And Adviser for Swedish Servants in America, published in New York in 1888 by Carl Grimsköld.
One cupful of ripe currants crushed fine, one cupful of sugar, one half cupful of water, the yolks of two eggs and one tablespoon of flour. Bake with an under crust. When baked, beat the whites of the eggs with four spoonfuls of powdered sugar, spread it on top of the pie and return to the oven to brown. (En kopp mogna och fint pressade vinbär, en dito socker, en half dito vatten, två äggulor och en matsked mjöl. Bakas i underdeg. När den är gräddad, vispas äggvitorna samman med fyra skedar pudersocker och bredes över pajen, som ställes tillbaka i ugnen, att brungräddas.)
This recipe is positively wonderful! I used a standard piecrust of 1 cup flour, 5 tablespoons shortening, a pinch of salt and only enough water to combine the dough. Add water one spoonful at a time. The egg whites make a mini-meringue on top. You may choose to make a real meringue or to serve the pie with whipped cream or ice cream instead.

The following German recipe for currant pie is a bit fancier than the previous Swedish-American recipe. Roll out this dough and bake for about 25 minutes at 325ºF:

1-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1-1/2 teaspoons lemon zest

Then add this filling and bake an additional 10 minutes or more until the top browns:

2 egg whites, beaten stiff
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch
2-1/4 cups red currants

If your crust threatens to collapse while baking, you may need to support it with foil and dried beans or some other weights.