It is berry season in New England. Almost every farmhouse has a blueberry, raspberry, or blackberry patch somewhere on their property loaded with ripe berries. This time of year, berries appear at farmer’s markets, lining the stands with baskets overflowing, or they emerge in the form of jams and pies. This summer, I have fallen in love with a berry which has yet to make its debut at farm markets, the black currant. My Black Currant Fig Bar recipe makes the perfect summertime snack, packed full of nutritious ingredients.
Black currants, native to northern Europe, grow well in New England. They prefer moist, fertile soil and can tolerate cold weather well. Woody stems shoot up from the base of the bush. Little clusters of glossy black berries hang among the green foliage, weighing the stalks down until they nearly touch the ground. When ripe, the berries simply fall into your palm when harvesting. Every part of the bush, emits a complex aroma, unlike any other scent I have ever smelled.
Packed full of antioxidants and beneficial nutrients, black currants contain more vitamin C than any other fruit. In Europe, the black currant has been used for centuries to treat various ailments. The leaves of the bush may be used to make tea, but it is the berry that is most commonly used in syrups, jams, candies, desserts, juices, and wine.
- 1 1/2 cups Black Currants
- 1 3/4 cups melted butter
- 1 1/4 cups of rolled oats
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
- 1/4 cup chopped almonds
- 1/4 cup chopped dried figs
- 1/4 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes (optional)
- zest of one lime
- 1/2 cup flour
- 3 tablespoons of Vermont pure maple syrup
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Grease an 8 inch square baking dish.
- Melt the butter over low heat and set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, confectioners sugar, coconut, chopped almonds and figs, zest of lime, and flour. Mix well.
- Add maple syrup to the melted butter and pour over the oat mixture. Stir well until all ingredients are moistened.
- Pour half of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking dish, patting it with your hands to make a smooth surface.
- Put the black currants on top and then top with the remaining oat mixture. Press with your hands.
- Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until golden brown on top. Check half way through baking and if the top is getting too brown, cover with foil for remainder of the baking time.
Blueberries may be used in place of the black currants.
Kim Goodling picks black currants on her farm in the Green Mountain state, Vermont Grand View Farm. Kim shares her rural farm life with overnight farmstay guests and through her blog. You can follow her on instagram @vtgrandviewfarm.