Sweet Surprise: Discovering Currants

More
zeke_august6_currants.jpg

Photo by manray3/FlickrCC


A currant is a different variety of a raisin, right? That's what I thought, mainly because the only currants I ran into were dried and in the Sun-Maid boxes that looked just like small raisins.

Wrong. I was in Rendezvous--a restaurant in Central Square in Cambridge, Mass.--having a wonderful orange-saffron risotto. The risotto was perfect: slightly crunchy with a nutty flavor. The saffron made it yellow--but I couldn't really taste it. The slightly tangy orange flavor was a wonderful compliment to the nuttiness.

On my third spoonful I was startled by an intense sweet, but not sugary, flavor. I took another bite which contained this little, shriveled black ball and there was this intense sweetness again. I love sweet, and this was heavenly. The combination of nutty, citrus, and sweet was pretty special.

I mixed some dried currants into rice and couscous, adding a sweet tang--delicious, especially when served with a lamb stew or tagine.

I thought maybe it was a small, unique raisin I had eaten. When the owner passed by I motioned him over and asked. He informed me it was a currant. I then revealed my ignorance about it being related to a raisin and learned my lesson.

I was told that we ignoramuses (or is it ignorami?) often confuse currants with Zante grape raisins. However, grapes are fruit that come from vines. Currants are berries that come from shrubs. Currants are only found in the Northern Hemisphere. Rendezvous' proprietor told me that their currants are cultivated in Massachusetts. You probably have seen the red variety, but this risotto had the dried black variety, about the size of a caper.

Until 2003, currants could not be cultivated in the U.S., but now they can and are frequently available in farmers markets and stores. I mixed some dried currants into rice and couscous adding a sweet tang--delicious, especially when served with a lamb stew or tagine.

So now I am a little smarter--but just a little--and have another interesting food to cook with.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Ezekiel J. Emanuel

Ezekiel Emanuel is director of the Clinical Bioethics Department at the U.S. National Institutes of Health and heads the Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to a Seaside Town in Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Where the Wild Things Go

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Adults Need Playtime Too

When was the last time you played your favorite childhood game?

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Health

From This Author

Just In