A CSA Experiment

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Well, it’s that time of year again where our CSA finally begins! I’m always excited to see what interesting produce we will get. For those of you who don’t know what a CSA is, it stands for “Community Supported Agriculture”. It’s a seasonal affiliation where a farm will provide you with weekly seasonal produce for a lump sum for the season. It’s a great way to support local farmers as well as get fresh, seasonal produce in the process! The wonderful thing about where we live is there are many opportunities to do this and there are many different types of CSA’s. There are ones that are all produce, some have meat, eggs, breads, and also flowers!

This time we received a quart of black currants. Now, I can honestly say that I’ve never had a currant in my life. I had no idea what they tasted like nor how to prepare them or what to do with them. I tried one and it was surprising. I had always expected it to be sweet, like a cherry or a grape. It was actually more of a tart, musky/ salty flavor. The skin was thicker and the inside was akin to a tomato, having a sac of seeds surrounded by juice.

I found a lot of recipes using currants in jams or cakes. I thought that making a pie with these would be great but I didn’t have enough. I figured with the flavor, it may go well with mangoes, which I just happened to have in my freezer. Now, I have tried to bake before with mangoes, but I have found that the best bang for your buck is to keep a bag of frozen mangoes in your freezer and use those for when the baking bug bites. So, mango currant bread. Instead of using my usual go-to quick-bread recipe, I decided to use the pound cake recipe base and add the fruit. Since the currant is not quite as sweet, I thought that the pound cake recipe’s sweetness and the sweetness from the mangoes would help balance the tart, saltiness of the currants.

Let me tell you, this recipe is delicious. The baking of the currants really ripened the flavors so that the sweetness from the cake and mango are nicely punctuated with the tangy and tart flavor of the currants. I love how baking is a universal medium for ingredients! My daughter immediately wanted a slice and then proceeded to pick out all the currants. She also really like the currants raw and was trying to eat them all as I was mixing up the batter. What a little consumer!

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Mango Currant Bread

1 stick butter, softened

1 1/2 C granulated sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla

3 eggs

1 1/2 C flour

1/2 C heavy cream

1 C black currants, washed

1 C frozen chopped mangoes

Cream together butter and sugar. Add vanilla and beat eggs in one at a time. Add flour in half cup increments, beating as you go. Add heavy cream and whip for 5-10 minutes until the batter is very smooth and fluffy. Fold in currants and mango. Oil or butter a bread pan and pour the batter into the pan, spreading evenly. Put the bread in a cold oven and bake for 90 minutes at 350 degrees or until a cake tester comes out clean. Take the bread out and let it cool for 30 minutes on a wire rack. Use a spatula to loosen it from the bread pan and set it on the wire rack to cool completely.

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