What are Raisins?

The Editors at Food Fanatic | Food Fanatic
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Just what are raisins are where do they come from? This article tells you more about these fruity treats and why they're so good for you.

Put simply, raisins are dried grapes! The grapes can wither be dried naturally in the sun, or in a food dehydrator. As grapes begin to dry out, they get darker in color, which explains why raisins appear almost brown.

Some raisins, however, are much lighter in color. These are known as golden raisins or sultanas, and are made using green grapes instead of red or black. They're often smaller than regular raisins and taste sweeter.

Rum Raisin Muffins Photo

The health benefits of raisins

Little raisins pack a mighty punch in terms of nutrition. They provide the body with energy, plus plenty of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber. They're a particularly good source of iron!

They are fairly high in calories and contain quite a lot of natural sugar, so it's best to eat them in moderation, in place of non-nutritious sweet treats like candy. 

Hot Cross Buns Picture

Homemade raisins

Did you know it's possible to make your own raisins at home? Not only is it possible - it's incredibly easy!

Here's how:

  1. Remove the stems from a bunch of grapes and wash them well in cool water.
  2. Spread the grapes on a tray and place them in an oven preheated to 225°F.
  3. Check on them every hour or so. They should look shrivelled and somewhat dried out when ready, but will still be plumper than shop-bought varieties. It can take around 4 hours to get to this stage.

Store in an airtight container for around 3 weeks.

You can try using lots of different varieties of grapes to achieve lots of different colors and flavors. You may just find that these plump and juicy homemade raisins will become your new favorite go-to snack!

Rum Raisin Muffins Image

How to use raisins

Aside from enjoying them just as they are - strtaight from the pack - there are lots of creative ways to use raisins!

Why not try adding them to:

  • granola
  • yogurt
  • cooked oatmeal
  • baked items like cookies and bread
  • ice cream

They're also great used as a topping for salad, or mixed with mashed banana and used as a toast topper!

Cinnamon Raisin Bread Pancakes Pic

Recipes with raisins

Raisins work beautifully in all sorts of recipes, from savory to sweet.

One of our favorites is this recipe for Baked Brie with Chardonnay Raisins. That sweet/savory combination is to die for!

Kids will love these Oatmeal Raisin Rice Krispie Treats, which are a great way to sneak a little nutrition into a popular sweet snack. Another idea for kids are Ants on a Log - just spread peanut butter on a stick of celery, slice of apple of a peeled banana, then sprinkle with raisins. Simple and healthy!

Cinnamon Raisin English Muffins Photo

Of course, nothing goes quite as well with raisins as rum - and these Rum Raisin Muffins are proof of that! We love them straight from the oven, topped with salted butter.

And for a taste of England, try these Cinnamon Raisin English Muffins. You'll be so glad you did!

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