Currants are a great source of vitamin C, but they also have many other health benefits.
Wondering what they are?
What can be prepared from it?
Or how to grow it in the garden?
You will learn all this and much more in our article!
What is a currant?
Currant is a berry fruit that has a wonderful sweet and sour taste, grows on bushes and looks a bit like gooseberry. It comes in several different colors (black, red, pink, or white) and can be enjoyed in many different ways. It is mainly used in marmalades and jams, but it can also be consumed fresh or dried.
Health benefits of consuming currants
Currants have many health benefits such as:
It has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and anti-aging properties
Black currant has the highest vitamin C content of all currant varieties. Vitamin C has powerful natural anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, and its overall dietary intake is essential for good health.
It strengthens immunity, promotes faster recovery after illness, effectively reduces inflammation in the body and, of course, stimulates the production of collagen, thus contributing to maintaining youthful and firm skin without wrinkles. It is also important for the health of our bones.
Improves cardiovascular health
A good amount of vitamin C stimulates the production of collagen, the basic structural protein in our body that maintains the integrity of blood vessels. In addition, studies suggest that foods rich in vitamin C, such as (black) currants, help clear blood vessels of cholesterol and act as a topical antioxidant, contributing immensely to cardiovascular health.
The amount of magnesium and potassium in currants in turn ensures good muscle activity and regulates blood pressure, two key elements in the prevention of heart disease.
It has a high content of antioxidants
In addition to vitamin and mineral antioxidants such as copper, manganese, vitamins A and C, currants are rich in anthocyanins, powerful pigmented flavonoids with excellent antioxidant activity. Flavonoids are responsible for the bright red and purple-black color of currants and other berries, fruits and vegetables.
According to research, the flavonoid antioxidants in red and especially black currants not only scavenge free radicals, but also reduce inflammation, which is known to be a precursor to most chronic diseases, especially diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
It is an excellent tonic
Black and red currant juice has excellent tonic properties because it concentrates a large number of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, B vitamins, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and zinc.
It works as a great natural medicine
Traditionally, currant leaves, dried fruits, and flowers were infused and used to reduce fever by inducing sweating, soothe throat irritation, cough, detoxify the kidneys, and aid in the treatment of diarrhea.
Nutritional value of currants
In the following table, see a comparison of the nutritional values of different types of fresh currants in 100 grams.
|Nutritional values|| Red and white currants|
| black currant|
|Energy||56 kcal||63 kcal|
|Fats||0.2 g||0.4 g|
|Carbohydrates||14 g||15 g|
|Proteins||1.4 g||1.4 g|
Vitamins and minerals in currants
Also look at the amount of minerals and vitamins that 100 grams of different types of fresh currants contain.
|Vitamins and minerals|| Red and white currants|
| black currant|
|Vitamin A||2.00 mcg||12.00 mcg|
|Vitamin B1||0.040 mg||0.050 mg|
|Vitamin B2||0.050 mg||0.050 mg|
|Vitamin B3||0.100 mg||0.300 mg|
|Vitamin B5||0.064 mg||0.398 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.070 mg||0.066 mg|
|Vitamin C||41.0 mg||181.0 mg|
|Vitamin E||0.10 mg||1.00 mg|
|Calcium||33.00 mg||55.00 mg|
|Copper||0.11 mg||0.09 mg|
|Iron||1.00 mg||1.54 mg|
|Magnesium||13.00 mg||24.00 mg|
|Manganese||0.186 mg||0.256 mg|
|Phosphorus||44.00 mg||59.00 mg|
|Potassium||275.00 mg||322.00 mg|
|Sodium||1.00 mg||2.00 mg|
|Zinc||0.23 mg||0.27 mg|
Where to buy currants?
You can buy currants in the supermarket, online or at farmers markets. Choose fruits that are shiny and firm. In general, the darker the color, the riper and sweeter the currant will be. It is sold by the stem and is often found next to blueberries or blackberries. The currant season lasts a relatively short time, from late spring to summer, although some varieties do not ripen until later in the season.
How to store currants?
Like all berries, fresh currants have a relatively short shelf life. It is best stored loosely wrapped or covered and refrigerated. Rinse fresh currants just before use and gently dry them with a clean towel. As with all berries, don’t wash it beforehand – exposure to excess moisture will only shorten its life, causing it to mold or rot in the fridge.
For longer storage, currants can be frozen: place the berries in a single layer on a baking sheet, refrigerate until frozen, transfer to resealable plastic bags, and store in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Currants can also be preserved in the form of jams and can also be dried in a dryer. Get inspired by our best tips for canning currants !
How to dry currants?
Dried currants are a great way to preserve these delicious berries for bad times.
First, throw away any rotten and diseased fruit, then wash, dry and dry the currants you plan to dry on a soft towel that absorbs excess moisture. Then choose one of the following drying methods and follow the instructions.
Air drying of currants
This is the simplest method that preserves the most vitamins in currants. However, drying takes quite a long time.
- Prepare wooden trays and cover them with baking paper.
- Spread the currants on the trays in a thin, even layer.
- Cover the currants with gauze and transfer to an open place such as an attic or balcony.
- Allow it to dry thoroughly, which can take about two days on average.
- Check the currants regularly to make sure they are drying evenly.
Currant drying in the sun
This is a traditional way of drying currants.
- Cover the wooden tray with baking paper.
- Pour the currants onto the tray in a single layer, making sure they are evenly distributed.
- Put the tray in a shady place until some of the moisture evaporates.
- Then transfer to a sunny place.
- Cover the tray with cheesecloth.
- Drying in the sun takes about two days.
- Hide the currants at home at night and take them out again the next day.
- Stir the currants regularly to ensure they dry evenly.
Currant drying in the oven
This method is the most popular method of drying currants because it is faster compared to other methods.
- Place the currants on a tray lined with aluminum foil or two layers of baking paper.
- Make sure it is evenly distributed in one layer.
- Set the oven temperature to 45 degrees Celsius (or the minimum temperature of your oven) and bake for an hour.
- After that, the berries should be slightly limp.
- Remove the currants and let them cool.
- Then increase the oven temperature to 70 degrees Celsius.
- Return the currants to the oven and leave to dry for another two hours, or until the berries are soft.
Drying currants in a microwave oven
This method is quick and effective, but you can only dry a limited number of currants, not the entire harvest. However, the end result is a dried currant that is tasty and bright.
- Cover the microwave plate with a napkin or cotton towel.
- Place one layer of berries on top.
- Cover them with another piece of cloth or napkin.
- Set the oven to 200 watts.
- Heat the currants for five minutes.
- Then check the berries for doneness.
- If necessary, the currants can be dried several more times.
- Stir for thirty seconds between drying the currants.
Currant drying in a dryer
- Set the temperature in the dryer to a maximum of 50-55 degrees Celsius.
- Spread the currants evenly in a single layer on the dryer tray.
- Allow to stand for ten minutes before placing in the dryer.
- Drying currants in a food dehydrator will take about 24 hours.
- Check the berries regularly and then mix them slightly.
Types of currants and how to use them in the kitchen
There are many varieties of currants. They are usually classified by the color of the berry, and there are a number of cultivars within each color. We distinguish two main groups of currants – red (which also includes pink and white currants) and black.
This is the most common variety of currant and is particularly suitable for the preparation of jams, milkshakes, smoothies, ice creams and various sauces , which are perfectly combined with goose, game and lamb. Its taste is slightly sour, but still sweet enough to be eaten raw. Ideally, however , sprinkle it with sugar . You can use it to decorate cakes and puddings by dipping it in lightly beaten egg white and then coating it in sugar. This gives a beautiful matte effect.
And what else can you prepare from red currants?
- Puree it together with olive oil, coriander or mint, salt and pepper. Serve with spinach leaves, dried cranberries, toasted almonds and crumbled blue cheese.
- Mix red currants with almonds, raspberries, black currants and cherries and serve alone or with vanilla yogurt.
- Add it to hot oatmeal and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
- Prepare a sweet salsa of chopped currants, mango, pineapple, cilantro, garlic, red pepper, chili, olive oil and a splash of lime juice. Serve with warm pita bread.
- Add it to muffins, bubbly, various cakes and buns .
Redcurrant is easy to grow and likes a cool climate, so it does well in colder places and northern areas.
We have great redcurrant recipes for you, 7 different ways. Try a luxurious cheesecake, liqueur or even a crumb bun!
It is actually the same species as the red currant. Technically, it’s actually an albino version of him. However, it has a milder taste and lower acidity than black and red currants. It is often eaten raw for its pleasant floral aroma and taste similar to sour cherries, kiwi and nutmeg. It is also used in desserts, for the preparation of jams and marmalades or as a filling for various cakes . You can also make great ice cream from it. It combines well with cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, cream, cloves, citrus fruits, tomatoes, juniper, ginger, strawberries, blueberries, peaches, cherries, basil or mint.
This is another albino version of the red currant. In terms of color and taste, it ranks between red and white varieties. It has a colorless skin and pink flesh. Thanks to its refreshing taste, it is ideal for fresh summer juices .
It tends to ripen later in the summer. Its taste is most pronounced and it is most often processed into jams, sorbets, sauces, compotes and syrups or dried . It also tastes great in combination with game or duck. You can add it to various buns, muffins or cakes .
- Make excellent wine, liqueur, mead or gin from it.
- Add it to the luxurious pavlova dessert.
- Make a smoothie out of it or add it to homemade ice cream .
- Boil frozen black currants with a little powdered sugar and white wine vinegar . Leave to cool and mix with mint leaves, chopped tomato and spring onion. Add pepper and salt to taste.
Also try our recipes for currant buns . You will enjoy!
Cultivation of currants
First, decide whether you will choose a tree or a shrub variant. In the case of the tree version, do not forget to choose a suitable support.
After that, it is important to choose which type you want to grow. Red, pink and white currants are self-pollinating, meaning that one plant will produce fruit without other currant species nearby.
Some blackcurrant varieties are self-pollinating. Those that aren’t will require other varieties nearby.
Where and when to plant currants?
If possible, prepare the planting site in the fall before you plan to plant. Then plant during the autumn months or early spring.
Currants will grow well in full sun to partial shade. Partial shade can mean less vitality and fewer fruits.
Clear the planting site of all perennial weeds, as they are much more difficult to control once planted.
Red and white currants thrive best in humus, moist soils with a slightly acidic reaction. For a change, blackcurrant thrives in lighter soils, but it can also be more calcareous.
Add organic material such as peat moss or compost as recommended by the soil test. Composted material rich in nitrogen, such as well-rotted manure, is an excellent fertilizer for currants.
How to plant currants?
Just before planting, soak the roots of taproot plants in a bucket of water for three to four hours. When planting, plant it about 10 cm lower than it grew before. Plant the plants approx. 90 cm apart, for black currants it is around 1.2 to 1.5 meters. Although currants are mostly self-pollinating, planting more than one variety leads to better yields. After planting, cut all canes back to four to six above-ground buds, which will encourage the development of new, strong canes.
At planting time, don’t forget 5-10 cm of organic mulch, such as wood chips, pine needles or compost. Mulching cools the soil, saves water and suppresses weeds. Mulch annually at the beginning of the year after planting.
How to care for currants?
- After planting, regularly remove weeds in the crown of the plant.
- Maintain an adequate layer of mulch to prevent weed growth.
- Water the plant sufficiently.
- Prune regularly.
- Remove affected or dead plant parts.
How to prune currants?
Prune planted currant bushes each year in late winter (early March) before new growth appears to encourage vigor and fruit production. During the first three years of growth, allow four or five canes to develop each year. Only remove weak or damaged wood. Prune the oldest wood every year starting in the fourth year. Remove any new weak growth. A mature bush should have 9 to 12 canes when the cut is complete. Always remove unnecessary sticks as close to the ground as possible
When and how are currants harvested?
Redcurrants are the first to ripen – from the beginning of June to the beginning of September, depending on the variety. White currants ripen from mid-July. Blackcurrant ripens only from the second week of July until about the middle of August. If you want to use currants to make jam, harvest them before they are fully ripe so that the natural fruit pectin content is higher. Cool the collected fruit quickly, place in covered containers or sealed bags. Quickly cooled berries can last up to several weeks in the refrigerator.
History of currants
The red currant comes from the subtropical regions of the Mediterranean, from where it spread through the regions of the temperate zone of Europe to Norway. At first there were only bushes with red fruits, but their crossing resulted in white and pink varieties. Blackcurrant, for a change, comes from northern Asia. It began to be cultivated in Bohemia at the beginning of the 16th century.