Crazy for Currants


December 6, 2012

Care of Andrea Gourgy

Fresh currants are typically grown in northern climates like Canada, but nevertheless, most of us are not very well acquainted with these tart little wonders. Currants are a lesser known member of the berry family, related to gooseberries. And they’re well worth adding into your food repertoire — they are an excellent source of vitamin C, and also contain potassium, iron and fibre.
Currants were first cultivated in Scandinavia, and then later in England. In fact, during World War II, the British government encouraged black currant cultivation (which was then made into black currant syrup) as it was one of the only sources of vitamin C available in Britain at the time. For those of you who have been to England, you’ve probably noticed that black currant syrup (or fruit concentrate), called Ribena, is still quite popular there today.
Fresh currants are often confused with dried Zante or Champagne grapes (which also go by the name currant), however, these tiny raisins are not related to the currant in the berry family.  Fresh currants are available in black, red and white. They can be used in savoury or sweet dishes such as jams, sauces, soups, puddings and tarts.

Many Canadians actually grow currants in their backyards, but they can also be found in farmers markets right now (June through August typically). Keep in mind that currants should be plump and firm when purchasing, and they can be kept in the refrigerator covered for about four days.

Filed under: Eat Veg elifelines Food of the Month Nutrition