15 Jul 2021

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHITE AND RED CURRANTS?

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All currants that ripen in these summer days, including white currants, are members of the Ribes family, flowering shrubs that thrive in northern climates with hot summers and cold winters. The small berries grow in clusters on the stems and are best if left to ripen on the plant. Currants have long been cultivated in Europe. They are prevalent in Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK, and many varieties are native to North America. Currants vary in colour from deep purple (blackcurrants) to bright ruby red to an almost translucent white.

While redcurrants are also the most common in the shops (they can be found all year round), it is not uncommon to find whitecurrants at certain times. What is the difference between these two fruits?

WHAT IS WHITE CURRANT?

White currants are botanically classified as Ribes sativum, the same species as red currants. They are technically an albino version of redcurrants and can be white, yellow or pink in colour. As a rule, white fruits usually have a higher sugar content and lower acidity than their coloured counterparts, and white currants are no exception. Unlike red and black currants, which are generally considered too strong and sour for fresh consumption, white currants are sweeter and more delicate. Although still quite tart, white currants are therefore considerably sweeter than black and red varieties, offering a floral aroma and flavours of black cherry, kiwi, nutmeg and a lingering sugar residue. The acidity level of a white currant is about the same as that of a gooseberry, so it can be used in recipes instead of gooseberries. Or serve it together with some strawberries and make a summer dessert. White currants are rarely specified in savoury recipes compared to their red counterparts.

White currant
White currants (Ribes sativum) - photos Italian Berry

So white currants differ from red currants only in the colour and taste of these fruits, which are translucent white and sweeter. White currant berries are slightly smaller and sweeter than red currants. When made into jams and jellies, the result is usually pink. White currants are actually an albino cultivar of red currants but are marketed as a different fruit.

On the plant the small round berries first appear green but then ripen to creamy shades of pink and translucent white, depending on the variety. Their soft, pulpy flesh has a juicy texture and contains many small edible seeds.

White currants also have a much shorter shelf life than red currants and are only sold for a limited period, normally during the month of July in northern Italy.

Thepink currant is the rarest and falls between the red and white varieties in both colour and flavour.

So buy whitecurrants to enjoy fresh or as an ingredient in tasty recipes such as the whitecurrant jelly proposed by food blogger La Caccavella:

WHITECURRANT JELLY WITH WHOLE CANE SUGAR


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