How did Zakynthos become one of the main producers of raisins in Greece, and what is their history and importance?

Raisins are dried grapes that have been consumed for thousands of years. They are rich in antioxidants, fiber, iron, potassium and other nutrients. But not all raisins are the same. There is a special type of raisin that comes from a small, sweet, seedless grape cultivar called Black Corinth. These raisins are known as Zante currants, Corinthian raisins or Stafida Zakynthou, and they have a unique history and importance in Greece.

The origins of Zante currants

The Black Corinth grape is one of the oldest known grape varieties in the world. It was first mentioned by Pliny the Elder in the 1st century AD, who described it as a tiny, juicy, thick-skinned grape with small bunches. The grape originated in the region of Corinth, where it was cultivated and dried under the sun to make raisins. These raisins were highly prized by the ancient Greeks and Romans, who used them as decorations, prizes, medicines and delicacies. They were also traded with other civilizations across the Mediterranean and beyond.

In the 14th century, the raisins of Corinth were introduced to the English market under the name Reysyns de Corauntz. The name gradually evolved into currant, which is still used today. However, the production of these raisins shifted from Corinth to the Ionian islands, especially Zakynthos, in the 16th century. This was due to the Venetian domination of the islands, which encouraged the cultivation of grapes and other crops for export. Zakynthos became the main producer and exporter of currants, which were also known as Zante currants after the Italian name of the island.

The importance of Zante currants

Zante currants have been an important source of income and identity for the people of Zakynthos for centuries. The island has a special soil and climate that favor the growth of the Black Corinth grape, which produces small, dark, sweet and aromatic raisins. The harvest takes place in late summer, when the grapes are ripe and purple. The grapes are then dried naturally on paper or plastic racks under the sun, without any chemicals or additives. The drying process takes about two weeks, after which the raisins are separated from the stems and packed for sale or consumption.

Zante currants have a distinctive flavor and quality that make them highly demanded by consumers around the world. They are used in baking, cooking, snacking and brewing. They are also a protected designation of origin product by the European Union, which means that only raisins produced in Zakynthos can be labeled as Zante currants. This recognition helps preserve the tradition and authenticity of this product, as well as its economic value for the island.

The benefits of Zante currants

Zante currants are not only delicious but also nutritious. They are one of the most antioxidant-rich dried fruits in the world, which means they can protect against oxidative stress and inflammation. They are also a good source of fiber, which can aid digestion and lower cholesterol levels. They provide many essential vitamins and minerals, such as iron, potassium, calcium and B vitamins. They are also low in fat and sodium, and high in natural sugars that can provide quick energy.

Zante currants can be enjoyed in many ways. They can be added to cereals, salads, yogurt, oatmeal or granola for a healthy breakfast. They can be mixed with nuts, seeds or chocolate for a tasty snack. They can be used to make cakes, cookies, muffins or breads for a sweet treat. They can also be used to make sauces, chutneys or jams for a savory dish. They can even be brewed into tea or wine for a refreshing drink.


Zante currants are more than just raisins. They are a product of history, culture and nature that reflect the beauty and diversity of Greece. They are a symbol of Zakynthos, an island that has been cultivating grapes and making raisins for centuries. They are a delicacy that can enhance any meal or occasion with their flavor and quality. They are also a superfood that can offer many health benefits with their nutrients and antioxidants.

If you want to experience the story and taste of Zante currants, you can find them online or at specialty stores. You can also visit Zakynthos and see for yourself how these raisins are made and enjoyed by the locals. You will surely fall in love with this amazing dried fruit that has so much to offer.