The real currants

Posted on 3 min read

In the English speaking world ‘currant’ might have different meanings. In the US and the UK, some people use this word when referring to dried fruit. The dark, shriveled, tiny, sweet, dried, seedless grape – that’s what currant is for some people. They are called ‘currants’ because of the ancient city of Corinth where they are thought to have originated from. We also know them as ‘raisins’. And none of them should be confused with the berries growing on a bush. Fresh, soft, black, red, white, juicy, sweet, and sour berries.

The real currants.

They are members of the Ribes genus numbering about 200 known species that thrive in the Northern Hemisphere. People of Russia, Poland, Germany, and others from Europe know a thing or two about these plump, translucent, appetizing berries. In the summer currants are in great abundance in farmers’ markets. If you are lucky, you have a small patch of land where there are bushes of different berries growing in the back. Currants are great fresh right from the bush, dried, lacto-fermented, processed into compote, jam, or jelly. 

Fermented berries

The fermentation is really a great thing, it does magic to the berries. You can go in different directions with this tool, but generally, we prefer sweet preparations over savory when it comes to summer fruit. And there’s an absolute gem in this basket by the name cordial.

Take 500 g of black currants, 200 g of honey, 200 g of water, and 10 g of freshly grated ginger. Transfer everything in a sterilised fermentation vessel (it may be glass or plastic) that will have enough space for future gas expansions, close with an airlock or a cheesecloth with a rubber band around to keep the bugs off. Let it sit on a counter for up to 2 weeks away from direct sunlight. Check it periodically and give a taste test every now and then. When ready, strain the liquid through the cloth into an appropriate container and store it in a fridge. Chances are that by that time you’ll have a mild, sweet, brightly acidic delightful cordial. Drink as is or mix with sparkling water, a few drops of orange juice, and a splash of liqueur of your choice.

Let’s fire up the BBQ

Currants, as other fruits and berries, of course, are the best when fresh, but frozen currants are a great thing too. You can turn them into a pie filling or a sweet dessert with sugar and sour cream. But bright acidic currants can look remarkable on a piece of grilled leg of mutton or a chicken’s breast. Simply put 250-300 g of frozen redcurrant berries with 50 g of water and juice from ½ orange in a pot, add salt and pepper, a strip of orange zest, bring everything to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the sauce through a fine mesh strainer into a pot. Then add 1,5 Tbsp of sugar and boil until thick. This astonishingly simple and delicious sauce is now ready for your meats!

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