Improve your baking by getting current on dried fruit differences between raisins and currants. These fruits look similar, but they have different origins, uses and flavor. A close examination of the two side-by-side will reveal that they do not look exactly the same. Though both are used interchangeably in recipes, understanding what separates raisins from currants will help you to choose the best ingredients for the recipe.
Seedless raisins today are made from drying Thompson seedless grapes until they darken and shrivel. Adding sulfur to the grapes before drying prevents the raisins from darkening and produces golden raisins. Currant production depends on whether you are looking at fresh currants or dried. Fresh, red currants are a fruit related to the gooseberry and ground cherry. Dried currants, also known as Zante currants, are seedless black Corinth, or Champagne, grapes that have been dried like raisins.
Dried currants are much smaller than raisins. Comparing the number of fruit per pound, Zante currants can have up to 4,000 fruits, while raisins have between 1,000 and 1,500 fruits per pound, according to “How Baking Works.” Both dried fruits are dark brown in color and shriveled in their exterior. Sulfured currants or raisins will have a golden, yellow exterior.
In baking, raisins and currants are interchangeable, but the smaller size of currants makes them preferable in recipes where a more even distribution of tiny bits of sweetness is desired. If a recipe calls for chopping raisins, opt for currants instead and skip the cutting process. The currants will have a similar flavor, but you will save a step in the recipe.
Raisins and currants both have a fruity flavor when eaten alone, but in baking, currants in the recipe will provide tiny pops of flavor without an overpowering fruity taste. Raisins will give a recipe more texture and sweetness than the currants from their larger size. If you want a slightly sweet tang in your recipe without the mouth feel of chewing chunks of fruit, opt for currants; where a chewy texture and sweeter flavor is desired, use raisins.
References and Resources"How Baking Works"; Paula I. Figoni; 2010
"How to Pick a Peach"; Russ Parsons; 2007
"The New American Heart Association Cookbook"; American Heart Association; 2010