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Currants



Question: Are the currants in period recipes the same as modern currants?

There are three distinct fruits which are modernly called currants. There is the European black currant, a small black fruit (Ribes nigrum), the European red currant (Ribes rubrum) which is about the same size but is red in color, and then there is the dried fruit of the "Black Corinth grape" (Genus Vitis).

Ribes nigrum, the black currant, was described by Gerard as being "of a stinking and somewhat loathing savour."

The Black Corinth grape is a very small member of the grape family, which is about the same size as red and black currants.

Conclusion:

From all of this I think it's safe [and in agreement with the current beliefs] to say that the references in period cookbooks to "raisins of Corinth" actually refer to dried Black Corinth grapes, which are modernly sold in groceries as "Zante Currants" - and are the "currants" that are modernly used in baked goods.


Appearance in some Period Sources:

Forme of Cury (1390):

Roo Broth
Bukkenade
Egurdouce
Tartlettes
Connynges In Cyrip
Leche Lumbard
Compost
Rygh in Sawse
Tenches in Cynee
Laumpreys in Galyntyne
Egurdouce of Fysshe
Sawse Camelyne
Crustardes of Flessh
Crustardes of Fysshe
Wastels Yfarced
Tart in Ymbre Day
Tartletes
For to Make Pomme Dorryle
The Pety Peruaunt
For to Make Pommedorry

Liber cure cocorum (ca. 1430):

For to make a rape
Sawce camelyne
Crustate of flesshe
Tartlotes
For a pye

Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books (ca. 1430):

Autre Vele en bokenade
Poumes
Tayloures
Bryndons
Rapeye
Mammenye bastarde
Strawberye
A potage on a Fysdaye
Pumpes
A Potage
Lesynges de chare
Ryschewys close & Fryez
Tartes de chare
Tartes of Fyssche
Chawettys
Tartes of Frute in lente
Pety Pernollys
Pety Pernauntes
Tartes de chare
Pye de pare
Herbelade
Crustade Ryal
Stwed Beeff
Capons Stwed
Pety pernantes
Auter peti pernantes
Tartus of ffles
Pies of Parys
Grete pyes
Herbe-blade
Losinges de chare
Fried creme de almondes
Risshewes
Taylours
Malmens bastard
Rapes
Risschewes de frute
Tart de ffruyte

I have so far found no references to "ribes" in the cooking sources I have handy. They may have been used medicinally.




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