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are currants just itty bitty raisins?

yumyum Apr 29, 2003 02:20 PM

Settle a bet for me -- $1 is riding on your expertise -- are currants used in baking in the United States just little raisins?

I will say not another word so as not to sway anyone with my excellent arguments for one side of this debate.

thanks in advance.

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  1. g
    GG Mora Apr 29, 2003 02:22 PM

    Nope. The currants commonly used in baking are dried currants -- an actual fruit. Raisins are dried grapes.

    3 Replies
    1. re: GG Mora
      wrayb Apr 29, 2003 03:00 PM

      While there is a fruit called currant that has nothing to do with grapes, what we most often see as dried currants are made from grapes. Supposed to be a particular kind of grape but these days, who knows.


      Link: http://www.foodsubs.com/Fruitber.html...

      1. re: wrayb
        jen kalb Apr 29, 2003 03:29 PM

        look at this one too. I think you can conclude that the dried fruit called currents used in baking are tiny dried grapes - the fresh fruit currants, uncommon in US, are a totally different plant.

        I dont know where this puts you in your bet.

        Link: http://www1.foodtv.com/terms/tt-r2/0,...

        1. re: wrayb
          jen kalb Apr 29, 2003 03:29 PM

          look at this one too. I think you can conclude that the dried fruit called currents used in baking are tiny dried grapes - the fresh fruit currants, uncommon in US, are a totally different plant.

          I dont know where this puts you in your bet.

          Link: http://www1.foodtv.com/terms/tt-r2/0,...

      2. w
        Wendy Lai Apr 29, 2003 03:00 PM

        I don't think they are the same. Although I do use them interchangeably depending on what I have on hand. I think they taste really close.

        1. r
          rjka Apr 29, 2003 03:05 PM

          The dried currants used in baking in the US are made from a variety of grape. They have nothing in common with the red and black currants found in Europe which are a type of berry.

          1. m
            Mike M Apr 29, 2003 03:08 PM

            As far as I know, there's a national ban on import of black currants--the real thing--in the U.S. (Something to do with transmission of a rust (fungus) disease.) You can get imported black currant jam, preserves, and I've seen instances of black current jelly actually made in the U.S. from imported juice. The little thingamabobs that pass for "currants" here are, if not raisins, then certainly something that looks/tastes very like them. In any case, no one who's ever tasted a real black currant is going to confuse them with these miserable little things.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Mike M
              muD Apr 30, 2003 01:05 PM

              It is white pine rust and black currant bushes can act as typhoid Marys. As for import into the US I don't know, but raw berries won't keep long so I doubt there'd be much of a market anyway. The bushes themselves are banned state by state. States with native white pine forests (most were cut down a long time ago) ban them, the rest don't - Minnesota and Michigan ban them.

              1. re: muD
                Mrs. Smith May 1, 2003 02:52 PM

                And with good reason too.

                I'm a Minnesotan, and my grandfather told me about white pine rust (the term he used) in the old days. Minnesota has huge stands, still, enormous, 200+ year old white pines which, while not as massive or tall as redwoods, are still mighty big and beautiful trees. Apparently some farmers planted small amounts of currants in gardens in the Southern part of Minnesota early in the century, and the resulting devastation of white pine was rather extreme in that part of the state. Preventative burning (I believe the only recourse they had at the time) saved most of the northern part of the states stands, where my family hails from. This includes Itasca State Park, a unique ecosystem of old-growth white pine surrounding the head of the Mississippi river (and yes, I've been to the spot where you can put one foot on either side of the river. Actually, there are several tributaries near the sources of the little creeks which unite to form the beginning of the river, not to burst anyone's Indigo Girls song or romantic notions). However, Itasca is beautiful enough (and the smell of a white pine forest is unique and intoxicating) to satisfy anyone's romantic notions, and I can fully understand why the black currant ban is in place. These, like all other old-growth forests, are irreplaceable (at least in our lifetimes) resources, that provide more for the environment than we could possibly gain from black currant farming in those areas. In addition to the pollution filter/soil protective qualities of the big stands, they are vital habitat for one of the lower 48's most endangered predators, the large and beautiful timberwolf. And a host of smaller animals, including unique subspecies of gray fox, pine martens, and squirrels make their homes there. These beautiful, unique places (they are called white pines because of the wood of the plant, rather slow growing for a confier. The needles are long and almost black, and the branches form a distinctive, irregular, un-pyramid type shape. These are very unique trees) are definitely worth saving. I'll get off my environmental soapbox now :)

                That said, I'm glad to hear that there are resistant strains. I had black currants fresh in England once, and love the products made with them. Truly a delicious and under-used fruit here in the US.

              2. re: Mike M
                lucia Apr 30, 2003 02:13 PM

                Here's a weird coincidence. This article turned up in the Poughkeepsie Journal today. I bet you're going to see fresh black currants at the NYC Greenmarkets soon.

                Link: http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/to...

                1. re: lucia
                  Linda W. Apr 30, 2003 02:19 PM

                  Love the grower's comment:

                  In terms of cash crops, "nothing else comes close," he said, "except for marijuana." :-)

              3. k
                Karl S. Apr 29, 2003 04:06 PM

                Dried currants in US parlance = dried Corinth grapes, NOT dried redcurrants or blackcurrants, which would have a different flavor.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Karl S.
                  Tripeler Feb 19, 2013 01:04 AM

                  I wonder if the Corinth grapes are somehow processed into Corinthian Leather?

                2. c
                  Coyote Apr 29, 2003 05:19 PM

                  Yumyum--knowing you--betcha a buck you won the bet!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Coyote
                    yumyum Apr 29, 2003 10:25 PM

                    Coyote -- sadly, I bet that a currant is a completely different animal than a raisin. For two reasons -- I HATE raisins and my dear British mother used to show me these lovely red juicy fruits called currants that she would then turn into a Cumberland sauce to have with roasts. The two could never be the same thing... could they? Some know - it - all baker dude (does the name MichaelB ring a bell?) told me about the marketing of tiny raisins in the US as currants and I had hoped to prove him wrong.

                    Although you are correct, I'm currantly (ha) persuading him that I am half right because it's only in their American "baking" context that they are the same thing. I'm willing to go down 50 cents, but not the full dollar. As you know, I am cheap, and I am determined.

                    Ciao to you, my dear!

                  2. p
                    PayOrPlay Apr 29, 2003 08:17 PM

                    The Sun-Maid website states that "Zante Currants" (described as "tiny seedless raisins") are "sun-dried Black Corinth grapes." It appears that these are the vast majority of "currants" produced and sold in the US.

                    On the other hand, fruits marketed as "Black, red or white currants" are apparently not grapes, under USDA definitions, anyway.

                    Oddly, it appears that "currant" originally referred to small dried seedless grapes, and only later came to mean that other fruit related to the gooseberry. So the commercial growers actually have some cause to call the little grape a currant!

                    Link: http://www.sunmaid.com/comments/consu...

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: PayOrPlay
                      Karl S. Apr 29, 2003 08:46 PM

                      "Currant" is derived from "Corinth".

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