August 6, 1841

Friday, 6th. Had a fine road down the valley of the Bear river and made about 25 miles during the day. Found many kinds of wild currants, red, black, yellow, &c., some of which were of excellent quality.

John Bidwell has mentioned finding currants before. On July 26 we talked about black currants (Ribes nigrum). Another related berry found in the Rocky Mountains is wax currant (Ribes cereum) which is very small and red.

Wax currant. By Dcrjsr – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16248887

All these berries would be a welcome addition to the pioneer diet. They can be eaten raw straight from the bush or cooked into oatmeal or stew. Being high in vitamin C and other nutrients, they help prevent scurvy, a common ailment on the trail.

About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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