Unloved Berries: Give Currants a Chance!

Unloved Berries: Give Currants a Chance!

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Emma Christensen
Jul 19, 2010

Poor little currants. They don't enjoy nearly the same popularity here in the US as they do in England and other parts of the world. They can't even claim the small but highly devoted following of mulberries, let alone compete with the blueberries and raspberries on farmers market tables. Can't we give these guys some love?

A big part of the problem is sheer availability. Here in the US, currant bushes are one of the primary hosts for white pine blister rust, a very destructive disease attacking pine trees. For this reason, currants are often banned in areas where pine trees are grown for lumber - which are also usually the best growing areas for currants.

Add to this the fact that currants themselves are susceptible to several kinds of pest and disease, the fruits are fairly delicate and not easily harvested on a large scale, and the fruits spoil quickly after harvesting - it's no wonder we rarely see the fresh fruit! Your best bet for finding them is to keep an eye out in your neighborhood. Currants are often grown as ornamental shrubs and some owners might not even realize the berries are edible.

Once you do manage to get your hands on some currants, what a treat you have! The exact flavor varies depending on the red, white, or black variety, but they all have a similar spicy and tart berry flavor. They make great jams and fruit pies, or you can simply eat the fresh fruit with ice cream!

Dried currants are also widely available and are great in baked goods. They're smaller than raisins and tend to be fairly dry, so definitely reconstitute dried currants in a little warm water before using them.

Here are a few recipes to try:

Frisee Salad with Red Currants from the Kitchn
Mini Currant-Kefir Muffins from Pithy and Cleaver
Apple Cranberry Currant Pie from Simply Recipes
Red and Black Currant Jam from Epicurious

Do you love currants? What do you like to make with them?

Related: A Round Up of Wild and Foraged Foods

(Image: Flickr member Maggie Hoffman licensed under Creative Commons)

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