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Nov 27, 2012 02:31 PM

Where have all the currants gone? Can't find them anywhere.

Today, I'm making a few of Alton Brown's Free Range Fruitcakes for Christmas desserts. I went to three grocery stores and one local 'whole foods' type market, and none of them had dried currants. Was there a crop failure, or does no one buy them in my area anymore? Do you find them at your local supermarkets? They used to be with the raisins, but nary a tag on a shelf did I find.

When I got home, I looked online to see where to order some, and really don't know the best place to get them at the best price.
Meanwhile, I subbed out more of the other dried fruits instead of the currants. For my next batch, I'd like to use the currants, though, if I can find any.
Any recommendations?

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  1. I couldn't find them either this year, so I simply used several different types of raisins. Worked out ok.

    1. I just bought some at Whole Foods in the DC area in the bulk food aisle. They weren't in the bulk bins; they were in the dried fruit in clamshell packages section.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Just Visiting

        I have only found them at Fairway here (never looked at Whole Foods, but they don't have at Trader Joes). There, they also come in generous sized clamshells. I have never found them in a regular grocery store, ever.

      2. I can only find "Zante currants" which are not really currants at all but a type of raisin.

        9 Replies
        1. re: drongo

          I think the Zante currants are what most recipes are referring to.

          1. re: drongo

            This is what I use for all my currant recipes.

            1. re: drongo

              That's true - that is in fact what I bought, not the berries from which currant jams are made.

              Here is something I did not know about black currants:

              Also happens to be a place to buy them.

              1. re: Just Visiting

                I would just like to add that I grew up in the U.K. eating black currant jam. Black currant bushes are in many gardens and grow wild too. Now that I'm in the U.S. I needed ingredients for a fruit cake. After calling my mother she explained that the "currants" she uses are imported and expensive. Clearly not the same thing as black currants then.
                It would appear that recipes calling for currants then refer to mini black seedless grapes (zante currants) and NOT black currants.

                According to the currantc website:

                "Since the growing of the real currants had been banned for many years in the U.S. and few Americans knew what real Currants were any more, the name stuck and we now have 80+ years of cookbooks telling us to put a half a cup of Zante currants, or more commonly the abbreviated "currants," in our scones and soda bread when what they really mean is the special seedless, mini-raisin made from black Corinthian grapes."

                1. re: littlemartin

                  In the UK, there will be the blackcurrants and redcurrants that are made into jam as littlemartin mentions. They're a soft fruit.

                  However, the currants used in, say, a fruitcake are dried grapes. British recipes may call for currants, raisins or sultanas. All different dried grapes and, to some extent, interchangeable.


              2. re: drongo

                dronge, the Zante currants are what I am looking for! I didn't realize that the fresh ones are a different species till after I'd posted my question. For this fruitcake, the teeny tiny raisins are perfect.

                Sunmaid Zante currants used to be by the raisins at all our local grocery stores, and now it's like they've just disappeared from the face of the earth.
                There are some WF stores in Atlanta, and we'll be heading over there a few times in the next week or two, so I'll make a point to stop at one of those stores. I guess I'll just load up on them, because I've been jonesing for some currant scones lately, too.

                1. re: jmcarthur8

                  Our markets still carry them in the Boston area, so they must be a depression-era victim of inventory-reductions in your area of Things That Don't Move Enough to Justify Taking Up Space. Has happened to lotsa things over the past 4 years...

                    1. re: Karl S

                      And Muscat raisins? My grandmother will be rolling in her grave if they aren't available.

                2. Are currants a commercial crop? I have never seen them in markets. In my youth, we picked wild currants and my mother boiled and strained them with sugar and made a refreshing drink with club soda. Nice memory.
                  I guess currants aren't current.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Veggo

                    Certainly a commercial crop - our local supermarkets always have currants, raisins and sultanas.

                    1. re: Harters

                      I had to Google sultanas. Your side of the pond has more varieties of small fruit than mine has.

                      1. re: Harters

                        Maybe a black market ring in fruitcake supplies?

                    2. I just bought some for a salad and found them at the first place I looked- my local independent health food store. Bulk.