Monday, September 20

What Are Fresh Black Currants? Not Dried Currants and Not Raisins.

black currants
Fresh black currants from Pudwill Berry Farms in Nipomo, CA.

What comes to mind when you hear the word "currant"? Raisins? Scones? The Brits? It's a confusing matter. So after purchasing a basket of fresh black currants at the Little Italy Mercato a couple of weeks ago, I did some sleuthing on the internet. Here's what I have learned about the differences between fresh black currants, dried black currants, and raisins.

Fresh black currants are small, round, glossy, black berries that pack a tart punch. They are related to red currants, white currants, and gooseberries; they are NOT grapes.

Dried black currants, also called Zante currants, are dried Corinth grapes, so technically they are raisins. With their black, wrinkly skins and sweet flavor, they look, smell, and taste just like traditional raisins.

Raisins are dried grapes, usually green Thompson grapes whose color darkens when dried. Similar to dried currants, raisins are shriveled, chewy, sweet, and fragrant.

black currants and boysenberries
Fresh black currants and boysenberries from Pudwill Berry Farms in Nipomo, CA.

Where can you buy fresh black currants? In cool, rainy places such as the UK. In the US, the Pacific Northwest and northern California grow fresh currants which can be found at farmers' markets and organic markets. They're also sometimes found in the freezer section of organic and specialty markets.

How do you cook with fresh black currants? Fresh black currants are most often used  to make jams and jellies, ice cream and sorbet, schnapps, and pies. They're also delicious in baked goods such as scones, muffins, and cakes. Fresh black currants have a savory side too: they make a tangy sauce for meats such as chicken, pork, and lamb and can be tossed into salads. If you have a recipe calling for fresh black currants and can't find them, then blackberries and gooseberries make good substitutes.

What are the health benefits of fresh black currants? Fresh black currants are high in vitamin C and potassium. They're also are rich, little nuggets of antioxidants (2X the antioxidants of blueberries!) which help reduce inflammation and may help lower your risk of cancer.

Now it's time to get cooking with fresh black currants, so check out the tempting list of recipes below.

Greek Yogurt, Fig, and Black Currant Parfaits
Greek Yogurt, Fresh Fig, and Black Currant Parfaits from Food Blogga

Read more about fresh black currants:
"A Tart Berry Reintroduces Itself" from the NYT
Fresh Black Currants information page from Specialty Produce in San Diego 

Black currant Savory recipes:
Black Currant Chicken recipe from Anne's Food
Lamb Chops with Black Currant BBQ Sauce recipe from Suzi's Blog

Black currant sweet recipes:
Black Currant Sorbet recipe from NYT
Blackcurrant Pie recipe from Bron Marshall
Black Currant Scones recipe from Local Kitchen
Red and Black Currant Parfaits recipe from Country Living
Black Currant Schnapps recipe from Danish Schnapps Recipes
Blackcurrant Swirl Cheesecake recipe from Good Food Channel
Black Currant and Orange Sour Cream Coffee Cake recipe from Epicurean
Apricot Almond Tart with Black Currants and Lavender Syrup from Vegalicious Recipes


Anonymous said...

We had big currant bushes in our garden growing up. Black ones are the best! The jam is unbelievably good.

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Black currant jam was my moms favourite so it holds a special place in my heart Susan.

The Teacher Cooks said...

I have never had currants before. Thanks for the great information and the recipe.

Sprigs of Rosemary said...

I have never seen these -- but I've never looked hard, either. Very intriguing. (And a great education, too!)

Alanna Kellogg said...

Ooooo ... I've never seen fresh black currants! They are totally my favorite, they're less sweet than raisins and since they're tiny, a smaller volume stretches further, important since dried fruit has such dense calories. Fun, Susan!

Joanne said...

last summer, my roommate took one of her friend's CSA shares over for her while she was on vacation and we got red currants. We had no idea what the were and made jam out of them, after some extensive research. Delicious! I would love to find black currants, these recipes sound awesome. Thanks for all the info!

Meredith said...

Oooooh, fresh black currants. My grandmother had a small hedge of them, so we feasted in the summer. She made black currant jelly and many other delightful treats with those currants.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Those are so pretty. Like smaller, black blueberries. I've never actually seem black currants, so thanks so much for sharing. Now if I could get my hands on some......

RamblingTart said...

Mmm, I love red currant jelly. We use it in Danish cooking and it's divine. :-)

Goody said...

Black currants make the world's best jelly candy. They're pretty high in pectin too, so they gel quickly (also helpful when making jam).

Like everything else, they are non-existent around here.

Kelsey B. said...

I love black currants, so under appreciated!

We Are Not Martha said...

Wow, I seriously wish I could get my hands on some of these. I'm sure I'd just snack on them all day :)


Hettar7 said...

You make me SO jealous. Did i tell you that in your last post that used fresh figs AND black currants. Both things that I've only tried in their non fresh and/or flavored form. I have some black currant bushed i planted outside my grandmothers house. but it might be years till i benefit from them. one day....

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

Thanks for the excellent information. I was never too certain what currants were.

Cynthia said...

Thank you! It is an always an education visiting your blog. Much appreciated.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

mkitr-Lucky girl! You must have sweet memories!

val-Oh, I'm so happy to hear that.

teachercook-You're welcome!

rosemary-Maybe you'll look harder now. ;)

alanna-I love their tartness too. As for raisins, red flame are my favorite.

joanne-Everything about red currant jam is just delightful. I hope you find some black currants now too.

meredith-Isn't it wonderful that you have those memories?

ramblingtart-I'd love to try them in some authentic Danish recipes.

anonymous-Thanks! They are pretty like blueberries but are much more tart.

goody-Jelly candy? Oooh, I'd love to try that!

kelsey-Yup. They need some lovin!

sues-They are hard to find. Good luck!

hettar7-Don't hate me because of my CA produce. ;)
Here's wishing your grandma's black currant bush is fruitful! :)

sam-I'm glad I helped clear it up!

cynthia-Thanks. That's kind of you to say.

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Lovely! I'll have to be on the lookout for fresh currants now.

Also, inspired by you and all your lovely posts about figs, I tried my first fresh fig yesterday.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

lynn-Well, what did you think? :)