Currants are in season — tart and tiny on the stem at the farmers market. Somehow, a stampede to snap up all the half pints never materializes. Where’s the peach-picking love, people? Red currants rival the sheen and brilliance of sour cherries. The white ones beckon with a touch more sweetness, pink ones are floated in champagne flutes and the aromatic, purple-black ones — whose bushes are a fixture in England’s summer gardens — make the best jam, not to mention creme de cassis.
They are small yet they pack an acidic punch. Toss them in the freezer as is and that’s how they’ll emerge, months later. I could tout their antioxidant chops (X times more than blueberries) or nutritional assets (loads of vitamin C) or ease of use (no pitting), but that’s not why they deserve a ride home. You can’t ask for a more versatile kind of berry. Fresh, they can be tossed into just about any dish or salad in which lesser raisins are deployed, where I guarantee that currants will be a piquant upgrade. They are the fruit equivalent of a caper, if a caper delivered tart instead of salty.
They make a fine crumble, a terrific barbecue sauce and even a no-fuss cake decoration, pictured above. Dried, they are the go-to feature of classic scones. (Fun fact: Black currants were banned from commercial production in New York from early settler days until 2003, because the plants could be carriers of a fungus that killed pine trees.)
It takes no time at all for them to cook down with a bit of liquid and sugar or spices; once strained or pureed, the resulting sauce will be worth drizzling on every course. Give them a try.
Good eats and seasonal favorites on display in our readers’ most-viewed recipes online:
1. Grilled Corn Four Ways. Back on top again this week, offering a quartet of taste variations.
2. Santa Fe Breakfast Bowl. This won a recent cooking competition among institutional health-care chefs; you wouldn’t be hungry the rest of the day.
3. Simple Pan-Fried Chicken. No flour, no marinating.
4. Definitive Fried Chicken. Adobo seasoning’s the secret.
5. Warm Brown Rice and Chickpea Salad With Cherries, pictured above. Even if you have 31 cherries instead of the required 32, you’ll be happy with the result. From #WeeknightVegetarian.