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Blackcurrants, also called cassis, are dark berries native to central and northern Europe and northern Asia.

Characteristics[edit | edit source]

The berries are small and deep purple to black,[1][2] with a similarly dark juice. The flavor is distinctively sour and somewhat astringent, with relatively low sweetness,[1][3] and this distinct aroma is due in large part to a compound called blackcurrant mercaptan along with other thiols.[4]

The fruit has an extraordinarily high vitamin C content, good levels of potassium, phosphorus, iron and vitamin B5, and a broad range of other nutrients. Blackcurrant seed oil is also rich in many nutrients,[2] especially vitamin E and several unsaturated fatty acids.

Selection and storage[edit | edit source]

Like many berries, blackcurrants should be plump, shiny, and intense in color. Avoid wrinkled, crushed, or discolored berries, as well as any that show signs of mold. They can be stored in the fridge away from moisture for about one week. For long-term storage, they can be frozen, dried, or dehydrated.[5] Note that it can be difficult to find fresh blackcurrants in countries outside of their native range due to growing needs and import restrictions.[5]

Use[edit | edit source]

Blackcurrants may be eaten raw, but they are more commonly processed due to their strong flavor.[5] They are a common ingredient of Rote Grütze, a popular kissel-like dessert. In the UK, Europe, and Commonwealth countries, some types of confectionery include a blackcurrant flavor, and in Belgium and the Netherlands, cassi is a flavored currant soft drink, while crème de cassis is a type of fruit liqueur.[1] Other than being juiced and used in jellies, syrups, and cordials, blackcurrants are used in cooking because their astringent nature brings out flavor in many sauces, meat dishes and desserts.[1][5][6]

It was once thought that currants needed to be "topped and tailed" (the stalk and flower-remnants removed) before cooking. However, this is not the case as these parts are easily assimilated during the cooking process. If one prefers, the whole blackcurrant stem with fruit can be frozen, then shaken vigorously. The tops and tails are broken off and fruit can be separated easily.

Recipes[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. a b c d "Black Currant Berries". Retrieved 2024-01-05.
  2. a b The Chefs of Le Cordon Bleu (2011-12-02). Le Cordon Bleu Patisserie and Baking Foundations. Cengage Learning. ISBN 978-1-4390-5713-1.
  3. "Why Crème de Cassis Deserves a Revival". Serious Eats. Retrieved 2024-01-05.
  4. Velisek, Jan (2014-03-17). The Chemistry of Food. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-118-38384-1.
  5. a b c d "Get a Peek at Fresh Currants". The Spruce Eats. Retrieved 2024-01-05.
  6. Wyk, Ben-Erik van (2014-09-26). Culinary Herbs and Spices of the World. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-09183-9.