I love the Townsend’s YouTube channel, as it offers so much insight into where our food traditions originated and how much of what we eat now is anchored in history. In this video, Jon Townsend talks about the difference between Zante currants and Ribes currants and how unlike the two are.
The Ribes currants can be black or red. In the video, Jon mentions that raising black currants was banned in the U.S., and since he didn’t mention why, I figured I’d check that out, and it’s because they carry a disease that threatened to wipe out America’s pine trees. As noted in the video, a few states have lifted the ban, but black currants are still rare. So the Zante currants and red Ribes currants will likely be the only currants you’ll find, though the Zante currants will probably be more readily available. Also, the Zante currants will be found in the grocery store along with raisins, while the red currants, if your store carries them, will likely be fresh or already turned into jam.
As mentioned in the previous post, raspberries are massively popular in Great Britain. Knowing that, it should not come as too much of a surprise that raspberries feature prominently in this classic English summertime dessert. And while it may sound terribly quaint and British to call a dessert like this “pudding” (and the British do now call virtually any dessert “pudding”), my 1967 Webster’s dictionary still identifies pudding as being the cereal-based soft food that the English still think it is.
This is a perfect dessert for celebrating the abundance of summer fruit–and it’s much easier than you might guess from the number of notes following the recipe. It’s just that this dish has many possible permutations, depending on what is ripe and available, so a few comments were necessary. I have made this dish with a variety of berries (and drupelets), but have always included raspberries. Enjoy.
English Summer Pudding
Approx. 1-3/4 to 2 lbs. berries (see notes)
1/2 to 1 cup sugar (see notes)
8–10 slices white bread, crusts removed
whipped cream, crème fraîche, thick cream, or Devonshire cream Continue reading