Have you ever tasted a current in anything? I know I haven’t but when I went to pick blueberries the grower had a whole section dedicated currents. When I asked what people use them for the grower promptly replied, “I make a great wine but some European ladies make chutney with them.” European ladies? This is Michigan.
I’m curious, grabbing an extra bucket and trekking back to the red current section (apparently he had black and white one’s as well) I found a strange plant.
A tiny red berry growing in little clumps like grapes on a bush. It took me only moments to run my hands across the ripe fruit and drop them into my basket. Tasting them made my lips pucker with tartness after the sweet blueberries I’d been eating. The taste reminds me of cranberries, except mini.
I paid for a pound of currents and prayed one of my cookbooks had something I could use them for.
It took some time to clean then stems off and remove any old/unripened berries. I pulled out my go-to cookbook and found- nothing. Each book I tried I struck out. Until, in a wartime cookbook next to a Green Tomato Mincemeat recipe, I found a recipe for Spiced Currents. The recipe looked simple and I have everything for canning so why not give it a swing. You could make this and freeze it or keep in the fridge for about a week.
The Complete Book of Home Canning by Demetria Taylor 1943 calls for five pounds of currents which I don’t have so lets look at the ratios a bit. Sugar and currents must be equal parts is key and everything else is negotiable (at least that’s how it is when I make jam). The clove is for taste, the vinegar for acidity, and the cinnamon acts as a thickener. My revised recipe:
- 1 pound currents
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 tsp ground clove
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/3 cup vinegar
When exploring in cooking recipes are more of a guideline than a rule so mess with them and see what happens! You may stumble onto a tasty morsel and have to write down your own recipe to use later.
I’m going to can these in tiny jars so if I don’t like how it turns out I can conveniently give it away as gifts to random people who visit or put it in the church bake sale. You’ve been warned.
Luckily, this turned out remarkably tasty. Tasting similar to scratch-made cranberry sauce (that canned stuff is questionable folks) you can use it in similar circumstances. Like a juicy pork steak with it drizzled over the top in a bright line. You could strain out the berries if you wanted a even texture but I found the berries added a nice punch of tart into the sweet mix of the juice. Or spread them over a warm piece of toast in the morning.
So next time you run into a current grower ask to try his wine, be on the lookout for European ladies, and try this wartime recipe.
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