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What Are Currants and What Do You Do With Them?

My Recipes logo My Recipes 2/22/2020 Corey Williams
a close up of a bowl of fruit © Westend61/Getty Images

Ever wondered what, exactly, makes a currant a currant? You’ve come to the right place.

What Are Currants?

Currants, also called Zante currants or Black Corinth raisins, are dried berries that come from seedless Black Corinth grapes. These are not to be confused with black, red, or white currants, which are grape-like berries that come from shrubs and are not usually eaten dried.

Currants vs. Raisins

A currant is a type of raisin.

Raisins are dried grapes. There are plenty of varieties, but in the U.S., “raisin” typically refers to dark-colored dried large grape.

As currants come from Black Corinth grapes, golden raisins come from sultana grapes.

Currant History

The word “currant” is derived from “Corinth,” a Greek city famous for its small, dark grapes.

“As early as 75 A.D., Pliny (the Elder) writes of a tiny Greek grape, thin-skinned, juicy, and sweet, and with bunches exceedingly small,” according to Raisin Production, a manual by the University of California. “It then dropped out of written history until the eleventh century, when trade of this type of raisin between the Greek producers and the Venetians were recorded.”

By the 17th-century, trade shifted toward a group of Greek islands, particularly Zakynthos (Zante). That’s why they’re sometimes called “Zante currants.”

These days, currants are produced all over the world.

What Do They Look Like?

a close up of a chocolate cake: Danielle Wood/Getty Images © Danielle Wood/Getty Images Danielle Wood/Getty Images

Dried currants are tiny, bluish brown/black raisins. Their wrinkles are fine to medium, but quite distinct.

Fresh Black Corinth berries are small, round, and reddish black. They’re mostly seedless, but particularly large ones may contain a few hard seeds. They grow in small, cylindrical clusters.

What Do They Taste Like?

Currants are quite flavorful. They taste like regular raisins, but since they’re small, they’re a bit more intense.

Currant Benefits

Though they’re small, currants pack a healthy punch. Nutritional highlights include:

  • Like other types of raisins, currants are a great source of soluble and insoluble fiber. This is important for digestion, heart health, weight loss and management, and general wellbeing.
  • They’re also considered a high-manganese food. Among other things, consuming an adequate amount of manganese is necessary for proper nervous system function.
  • They contain a great deal of copper, which is used by the body to synthesize collagen and to promote the absorption of iron.

What to Do With Currants

a plate full of food: Thomas J. Story © Thomas J. Story Thomas J. Story

Because of their tender skin and small size, currants are often used for cooking and baking. For a sweet treat, we recommend stirring currants into scone dough instead of regular raisins.

If you’re in the mood for something savory, currants will add a touch of sweetness and texture to your breads, salads, or holiday stuffings.

Basically, anything you can do with raisins, you can do with currants.

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