Fresh red currants: what to do with them?
I saw red currants at the store today. Pretty, jewel-like things, they are.
Don't know what to do with them, though. A recipe search resulted in a bunch of things made with red currant jelly, but not with fresh red currants.
Are red currants best used as a garnish?
Aren't you lucky! Up here fruits like that don't show up very often at markets, and when they do they're expensive.
According to my "Canadian Treasury of Cooking and Gardening," red currants make excellent jams, jellies, pies, juices, and wines. They are full of pectin, so they gel easily (good to combine with other fruits for jelly/jam) and they freeze well, so they can be preserved for later use. They are an excellent source of vitamin C. One of my other books, which I don't have at hand, uses them as part of the fruit mixture for a Summer Pudding. I'm sure the base recipe for Summer Pudding can be found with an on-line search. In the meantime, here are two pie recipes from "The Canadian Treasury..." that use red currants.
Raspberry and Red Currant Pie
from: The Canadian Treasury of Cooking and Gardening by Mary Alice Downie and Barbara Robertson. 1997. Key Porter Books, Toronto, Ontario.
2 cups Raspberries, firmly packed (don't squish)
1 cup Red Currants, stems removed
3/4 cup Granulated Sugar
2 tbsp. All-Purpose Flour
Pastry for 9-inch doubl-crust pie or lattice-top pie
Mix sugar and flour together thoroughly. In a bowl, gently toss the fruits together to combine, then add sugar-flour mixture and continue to toss gently with hands or a spatula until all through the fruits. Spread mixture evenly in the bottom pie crust, cover with top. If using a full top, cut steam vents. Brush top crust with milk and dust with sugar. Bake at 450F for 10 minutes; reduce heat to 350F and bake another 30 minutes.
Red Currant Pie
(makes a currant-custard pie topped with meringue)
1 + 1/3 cups Granulated Sugar
1/4 cup All-Purpose Flour
2 Eggs, Separated
2 tbsp. Water
1 cup Red Currants, washed and stemmed
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell
Mix together the flour and 1 cup of the sugar. Pour over currants and toss gently but thoroughly with hands or a rubber spatula to mix. Beat together the egg yolks and water and add fruit mixture, stirring to combine. Place mixture in pie shell and bake at 450F for 10 minutes, then lower heat to 350F and continue to bake another 20 minutes, or until custard is set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Make a meringue with the two egg whites and the remaining 1/3 cup sugar. Beat egg whites until foamy, then start adding sugar, a tablespoonful at a time (sprinkle over the top) while beating. Continue to beat until stiff peak stage is reached. Spoon meringue over pie, taking care to seal it to the edges, and bake at 325F for 15 minutes.
According to the book, this last recipe is actually out of the Fanny Farmer Cookbook, so I'd advise looking in books like that for recipes for red currants. For some reason they've fallen out of fashion and don't appear much in modern cookbooks.
Hope whatever you choose to do turns out well.
I like to just stew them with a bit of water and sugar. They make a terrific sauce for rice pudding.
They're a terrific addition to fruit salad or fruit tarts or mixed fruit with whipped cream or marscapone, etc.