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Currants were a widely cultivated fruit in the early 20th century. These nutritious fruits belong to the berry fruit type, and share the taxonomic family Grossulariaceae with gooseberry and buffalo currant. Nevertheless, the deciduous shrubs bearing currants are devoid of thorns unlike the gooseberry plants.

Interesting Currant Facts

In the market, you will find fresh currants during the peak summer season that lasts from June to August. The less ripe berries are best used in jams and jellies or other cooked recipes. As expected, the dried currants are available all the year round, and you can use them in any recipe that calls for raisins.

Description
Currant fruit is a small-sized berry (about 1 cm) that has a smooth and glossy skin. It is almost round in shape and the skin color of this fruit depends upon the stage and species. While the unripe currants are generally green, the ripe fruits may be yellow, pink, white, red or black in color. The blackcurrants (or black currants) retain remnants of calyx at the apex.

Growing Currants
The plant of this fruit adapts well in the USDA hardiness zones 3-5, where the humidity is high in summer and winter temperature is chilling cold. Similar to other thick shrubs and bushes, it is multiple stemmed and grows in clumps. Active growth takes place in spring, and this shrub grows to about 5 feet at maturity.

Varieties
There are different cultivars that are popular like the white currants (Ribes sativum), pink currants (R. petraeum), red currants (R. rubrum) and black currants (R. nigrum). The sweetest fruit is yielded by the black currant plant variety, while that of the white currant has the most delicate flavor. Red currants are moderate sweet combined with tart flavor.

Nutrition
Currants are an excellent source of vitamin C. Other nutrients present in high percentage are carbohydrate, sugar, dietary fiber, protein, calcium, iron, vitamin K, potassium and manganese. In addition to low calorie count (yield 32 calories per 56 g serving), the plus point with consuming currant fruit is, it contains a negligible amount of cholesterol, saturated fat and sodium.

Uses
Of all the currants types, the red currants are widely consumed in America and Europe. These along with white currants are best eaten fresh and raw. The black currants, on the other hand, are used for making liquors, syrups, pickles, pies, sauces, spreads and other items. Their sweet and tart taste makes them excellent for making fruit preserves.

Dried Currants
The commonly known dried currants is not related to true currants. Rather it is Zante grape (Vitis vinifera), which is small, sweet and seedless grape species indigenous to Corinth, Greece. So, do not confuse it with black currants, red currants and white currants. However, the berries of the genus Ribes are also dried and consumed as raisins.

Storage
To enjoy the best tasting currants, fruits are picked at a nearly ripen stage. They are left covered for ripening and within 1-2 days, you can enjoy this sweet and slightly tart fruit. As far as storage is concerned, you can follow the same steps for berry storage. Select unbruised currants without soft spots, and put them in plastic bags without washing. Refrigerate bags in crisper drawer.

In addition to the popularly consumed white, red and black currants, there are also yellow and green colored types. Store them properly in refrigerator, and you can extend the fruit shelf life to at least 2-4 days. And in case of non availability of currants, you can substitute with chopped prunes, raisins and dates.