Redcurrants may be small but they pack a surprising amount of flavour. Their sharp, tart taste has makes them set to stay on consumers’ plates, – as food and drink manufacturers continue to find novel uses for the little berry in exciting new products, such as apple and redcurrant soya yoghurt and mint and redcurrant dressing.
A member of Ribes, in the gooseberry family, redcurrants are native to Western Europe, and widely grown in Eastern Europe. They are one of 150 species in the family, which also includes black and white currants. Redcurrant sits firmly between the two – more tart than white currants and less robustly flavoured than black. But this makes them the perfect ingredient for processing, unlike alternatives that are better enjoyed raw and fresh.
While they are widely cultivated, redcurrants also now grow wild in many regions – expanding from Europe as far as Asia. Growing no higher than 1.5 m, they have yellow/green flowers initially, before maturing into edible red berries in the summer. But each small berry has as many as 65 natural phenolic compounds, which play a potential role in cancer prevention, as well as contributing to its astringent properties. The polyphenols in redcurrant skins also provide a high antioxidant content – adding ‘superfood’ status to their list of benefits, including being a rich source of vitamins C and K.
Forward-thinking manufacturers are increasingly using the berries to add a flavour edge in their food and beverage applications. They are already widely used in tasty jellies and jams, such as redcurrant, balsamic and mint jelly and redcurrant, rhubarb and vanilla jam, or to balance sweetness in desserts.
In beverages, redcurrants are best paired with sweeter fruits; in cordials with grape, for example, or as a sparkling juice with apple and raspberry. They are also making their mark in dairy applications, such as milkshakes, and even giving consumers a fruity boost with green tea and redcurrant energy drinks.
To find out more about how redcurrant ingredients can add a great-tasting tartness to your food and beverage products, get in touch.