Etymology: corruption of the medieval name “raisins of Corinth.” The red currant is a 2-3’ high shrub of the Saxifrageae family that bears red or white berries.
Red currants come into their own in July. It’s a uniquely summer delight to pick them on a hot afternoon, eating them right off the stems.
To avoid confusion in the berry world, keep in mind that berries of the Ribes genus are found in three colors: red, white and black. Red and white currants belong to the same species (Ribes rubrum, R. sativum), while black currants are a separate species (Ribes nigrum). Furthermore, berries of the Ribes genus should not be confused with dried currants, sold mainly for baking, which resemble small raisins. They are actually dried Zante grapes.
70 to 100 days after flowering, the flowers give rise to small shiny round berries, pulpy and sour, under 1/4” in diameter, and which hang in a chain on stems. They are covered with a thin red or white skin, something like a grape. Their flesh contains tiny achenes (seeds).
Red currants are a mild laxative and tonic and calm stomach upsets.
Nutritional values per 100 g
Calories: 30-45; water: 83%; carbohydrates: 15 g; fat: 0.4 g; protein: 0.9 g. Rich in vitamin C, citric acid (hence its sourness), pectin and potassium.
Choose firm shiny berries that are not crushed or bruised.
Currants are fragile and must be eaten the same day… or close to it.
To keep them longer, remove the berries from the stems, freeze them flat on a baking sheet and then store in freezer bags.
Removing the seeds also removes some of the flavor, since part of the pleasure of eating currants is the astringent taste of the seed when you bite into it.
Currants are used either on their own or combined with other fruits to make jellies and jams since they contain pectin which is necessary for jelly to set.
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