Currants: The Champagne Grapes

Currants are often confused with black, red, or white currants owing to the close similarities between them. However, both fruits are actually not even in the same genus. Read on to learn more about these tiny, energy-packed fruits, their history, and how they can make an excellent addition to your everyday meals.

What are Currants?

Organic currants, also known as Zante currants or Corinth raisins, are sun-dried berries obtained from Corinth grapes. While the ripe Corinth grapes are green in color, they get darker as they dry, and form into beautiful grayish brown or grayish black currants. Currants are thick-skinned, seedless, and smaller in size compared to regular raisins. 

Currants shouldn’t be confused with black, red, or white currants as those come from flowering bushes, while the Zante currants grow on grapevines. 

Image Credit: Flickr user bri— hefele ( CC BY-NC 2.0 )

Why are Currants Called Champagne Grapes?

Currants are also called champagne grapes due to their resemblance to the tiny bubbles found in a crisp glass of champagne. However, this grape type is not at all used in wine-making. On the other hand, the plump Corinth grapes are usually savored as table grapes, while their dried form, Zante currants, are widely leveraged into baking.

History of Currants

Originating from Greece, currants are one of the earliest recognized raisins, as they appeared in writings from as early as 75 AD. It has been a major ingredient of British cuisine for centuries. Long before cane sugar was broadly accessible, the British would import currants from the Mediterranean as fancy sweet goods, during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Today, the United States and Turkey are the two major producers of currants; the account for 80% of the world’s currants. 

Taste of Zante Currants

Zante currants are juicy and chewy with a sweet and sour flavor that’s reminiscent of ripe grapes. However, they are a little intense in their flavor profile, possibly due to their smaller size. On top of that, they also have a berry-like sweetness to them.

Uses and Recipes with Currants

Since currants are naturally dried under the sun, dehydration causes dried fruits to have rich nutritional levels compared to grapes, making them a healthy snack for both kids and adults. Moreover, they can be included in energy bars, muesli, and mixed oats for that extra boost of energy. 

Currants can be used in numerous meals regardless of the time of the day. From breakfast bowls to fruit salads, and tea cakes, pies, fruit buns to pancakes, muffins, and many other desserts, could be simply adorned by adding a handful of currants to them. Zante currants can also be used as an alternative to raisins, cranberries, and dates,preferably in baking. 

In Moroccan cuisine, currants are widely used to add a sweet and tangy flavor to an array of dishes. Moroccan Tagine, for instance, is a perfect candidate for currants and is a very popular Moroccan meal because of its savory-sweet and warm flavor profile. Due to their intense flavor, currants go very well with sweet-juicy fruits like strawberries, oranges, and cherries

Feature Image: Flickr user naotoj ( CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 )

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