Currants are a diverse fruit that are grown all around the world and utilized for different purposes. They are considered a healthy fruit, seeing as they are packed full of vitamin C, antioxidants and rich nutrients. They can be used in a number of different dishes, altered into various forms and utilized for decoration. With so many options it is clear to see why they are a favorite amongst fruit. To ensure that you get the most out of this berry, check out some of its facts as well as the best ways to preserve it.
Facts about Currants
Though it has spread across the world, currants are native to northern Europe and Asia. It is still widely grown in specific areas, including England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Germany, Norway, Spain, Portugal and Poland. The berries can be easily identified by their unique display. They grow amongst yellowish-green, five-lobed leaves that are spirally on the stems. Though they have been planted many places, some currants have escaped into the wild. In previous years, this contributed to the spread of certain plant diseases. Thankfully, the diseases have diminished, however the berries do still grow in wild, tropical environments today.
Currants can be utilized in various dishes and in a number of different forms. The red currant is sometimes eaten by itself as a snack, while the tarter black currant is usually utilized in jams, jellies and syrups. Another popular version, the white currant, is also utilized in different jams and syrups, as well as pressed to make wine. The vibrant colors and sweet-tart flavors make this fruit a regular go-to in many European and Asian dishes.
General Information about Cooling and Storing Currants
Currants are usually harvested in large numbers, whether by machine or by hand, and are a common commercial fruit. As such, they are usually not utilized directly and must be preserved for shipping and selling. To accomplish this, there are certain cooling measures that need to be adhered to. Along with understanding those methods, there are certain aspects of the cooling and storing process that you should be aware of.
Precooling – Currants do not have a long shelf life at all once harvested. These berries are sensitive to ethylene, so they begin to perish quickly after they are picked. To slow down this process, it is imperative that proper cooling methods set in place as soon as possible after the berries have been harvested.
Temperature – The optimal temperature for storing the berries is at 34⁰F. This temperature should be reached within two hours of harvesting.
Relative humidity – Currants require quite a bit of humidity. In fact, it is suggested that they maintain a relative humidity of 90-95%.
Shelf life – Without refrigeration, currants do not have a long shelf life at all. However, when properly cooled and refrigerated, they can last one to two weeks. If frozen, they may last ten to twelve months.
Methods of Cooling Currants
Considering how sensitive currants are, it is critical that the proper cooling process be followed. Otherwise, the fruit can begin to deteriorate quickly. There are a couple of cooling options to utilize for currants.
Forced-air cooling – This type of cooling involves placing the fruit in an insulated room with refrigerators in it. Different factors, including the size of the room, number of berries being cooled and the size of the refrigerators, determine the number of refrigerators needed. To help the air to circulate properly, fans must be inserted around the room. This helps to ensure an expedient cooling process, which is especially important for large quantities.
Room Cooling – These cooling rooms are similar to forced-air cooling, except they do not have the additional application of the fans. This results in a slower cooling process, therefore these rooms are often considered a good option for keeping the currants cool after they have undergone an initial cooling process. Also, with the lack of the additional air circulating apparatus, it is important that the refrigerators be strategically placed around the room for optimum cooling.
Properly cooling and storing currants after harvest is crucial for maximizing their value, maintaining quality and freshness, and delivering great tasting product to end consumers. Semco designs fully customizable cooling and storage systems that are ideal for use with currants and other produce.