It almost never fails that I begin a baking project, anticipating a sweet treat when I discover that I don’t have the black currants or red currants that the recipe calls for. This is a common situation for many people.
Then there are others who simply don’t like currants. So, what can you do? There are several items that act as a replacement for currants. This can save a trip to the grocery store for a single item.
The good news is that there are other products that can be used as a replacement for currants. Several of the best ones are listed here. Many of these you will probably have in your cupboard.
Best Substitutes for Currants
There are several things that can be used in place of currants. But these are the best:
- dried plums
- dried cherries
- dried dates
- dried apricots.
Any dried fruit can be used, but these are the most popular for tasty desserts and bread.
What are Currants?
Currants are commonly referred to as the dried fruit of a grape named Zante. As Mary McMahon from DelightedCooking.com points out, “In some places, the dried fruits sold at grocery stores as “currants” are actually dried Zante raisins from Greece. It is believed that the name “currant” is a corruption of Corinth and might have originated when the raisins were first imported into the U.S. during the 1920s.” They are used in a variety of products from baked goods to cereal to oatmeal.
They can also be used as a topping or as a snack. They are very sweet which makes them popular for baked goods. They are commonly used in muffins, cookies, and cakes. They are usually dried to preserve the usefulness of the fruit.
Alternatives to Currants
When I find that I have run out of currants needed for a recipe, I turn to some of these substitutes to do the job. They each work well when you need a replacement for currants. In most cases, you can use a substitute for currants in equal quantities. For example, if the recipe calls for 1/2 cup of chopped currants, you could use 1/2 cup of one of alternative options below.
Use your judgment and taste to decide on the right quantity if you are unsure. There is no true right or wrong answer for how much of the replacement ingredient you use. But again, a 1:1 ratio is a good starting point.
One of the easiest substitutes for dried currants is raisins. They are common in grocery stores, and you may already have them in your pantry. You may wonder about currants vs raisins. The truth is as both currants and raisins come from grapes, you can consider them to be “cousins” as they are closely related. Also, both currants and raisins are dried for long shelf life.
As they are made from grapes, you’ll notice that there is a wide variety of raisins available. Most grocery stores offer grapes in dark purples, golden and red.
I often buy organic raisins so that I don’t have to worry about pesticide traces. They make a perfect snack and are also great substitutes for dried currants.
And as a side note, you are the DIY type like me, you can even make your own raisins and dried fruits with a dehydrator. It is easy to do and really satisfying.
Dried cranberries are an excellent substitute for dried currants. Not only are they available throughout the year as a dried product, but they also provide a rich, slightly tart flavor that is perfect for a variety of meals. Consider using them in baked products and salads. The most common brand is Craisins.
When they are not dried, cranberries even resemble currants. Their sweet tartness is low in calories and sugar. However, you also get the benefits of antioxidants and vitamin C. I know that I enjoy them in a variety of meals and baked goods.
Even if you are not using cranberries in baked goods, they are also a wonderful substitute for jelly and savory food items. I know that I can tell the slight difference in color, but the flavor and health benefits make up for the small change.
The next time that you are making cakes or pies and need a dried currants substitution, reach into your cabinet for dried cranberries. Not only do they make a wonderful substitute, but your family also may not even notice the difference. Plus, the health benefits they provide will give you a certain peace of mind that you are still giving your family a beneficial meal.
Prunes (a.k.a. “dried prunes”) are dried plums and work very well as a replacement for dried currants. The added benefit is that prunes are a great source of minerals, vitamins, and fiber. They are also low-carb and widely available in grocery stores.
If a recipe calls for currant jelly, stewed prunes can easily stand in as a substitute. I often use them in baked dishes, ice cream, and yogurt. It’s a sweet addition that you may not have considered before.
And don’t forget they can serve as a healthy snack with a boat-load of beneficial fiber!
As I mentioned, almost any dried fruit can be used as a substitute for dried currants. Dried apricots are no exception.
They are sweet and can easily be incorporated into your next baking project. When you need substitutes for currants, try dried apricots the next time you make muffins or cakes.
Dried dates are an excellent product that can easily serve as a currant alternative. They are very sweet. The flavor is often compared to honey. Additionally, dates are often used as a natural sweetener in many recipes. I often use the Medjool variety because of their additional protein and fiber.
The depth of their sweetness and unique flavor makes them perfect as a currant alternative for jams. They are also perfect for baked goods such as pastries, pies, and cakes.
Dried dates have been enjoyed through the centuries. Originally cultivated in Mesopotamia and Egypt, they were beloved by pharaohs and kings throughout the Middle East. While dates are still predominately grown in the Middle East, they are readily available in most grocery stores.
When you need a replacement for currants, dried cherries are a perfect choice. They are commonly used in baking and provide the sweetness that currants also have. While they have a brighter red color than red currants, they are still close enough in flavor to act as a substitute for dried currants.
As a replacement for currants, I find that I sometimes prefer the softer texture that dried cherries have. I use them in a wide variety of baked goods such as scones, muffins, cookies, and cakes.
Many people are not very familiar with jujubes, but they make an excellent ingredient when you need a substitute for dried currants. They are very flavorful and nutritious. If your grocery store does not carry them, most Chinese grocery stores do.
So, you may wonder what exactly is a jujube? They are known as Chinese dates and have a flavor similar to apples. While they are grown throughout China, there are also varieties that are grown in the African and Mediterranean regions.
Jujubes can be used as a replacement for currants, but I like the flavor so much that I often use dried jujubes in muffins, bread, cookies, and jam. During the cooking process for jam, the fruit breaks down nicely making it the perfect choice for use in desserts.
With a mild sweetness, blueberries work well in recipes that call for currants.
Most people enjoy the flavor in baked goods. Beyond blueberry muffins, I often use them in scones, breads, and other baked goods.
The downside is they may not have the concentrated sweet taste of dates or dried prunes. But with depending on the dish you are making, they can be a fantastic alternative to dried currants.
Other Substitutes for Currants
As I mentioned, almost any dried fruit can be used as a substitute for dried currants. Whether you turn to raisins, dried cranberries, or dried blueberries is a matter of taste and which products you have on hand. In a pinch, you can also use dried apples or peaches. Both provide the natural sweetness your recipe needs.
Dried currants are a wonderful addition to your baking projects. However, occasionally, I sometimes find that I don’t have them on hand when I need them. Fortunately, there are many other dried fruits that can be great additions to whatever baked item or dessert that I am working on.
As Molly Watson of TheSpruceEats.com points out, “There are many varieties of currants. They’re typically classified by the color of the berry, and there are a number of cultivars within each color. Red currants are the most common and best for jams, sauces, and similar culinary applications.”
Dried currants may be slightly more expensive than other dried fruits, but they are worth the investment. I typically keep a bag in my cupboard for the times when my sweet tooth urges me to create something. The special sweetness that they provide adds a unique flavor.
One last note, if you are making jelly and need a substitute for currants, cranberries work well. When cooked for a period with sugar or honey, cranberries can produce a very nice jelly when you don’t have currants.
Working with currants produces fun and favorable products. But if you to use a substitute for dried currants, I hope that you will consider some of the ones that I have mentioned. While each can work well as a replacement for currants, let your taste and preferences guide you in deciding which substitute will work the best.