Raisins


Raisins are a wonderful addition to your pantry. While we often think of them as an ingredient used only in baking, they are also just as delicious in savoury dishes like salads and stir-fries. We love them for their explosion of super-concentrated natural sugars that dissolves almost like candy - only better for you!

The recipes on our site usually call for three different kinds of raisins: Raisins, golden raisins and currants (no relation to the berry). Here's a little bit about each one to help you understand what you're buying.

Raisins: These are the small, plump, dark variety. They come from an amber green grape that's native to Turkey and Iran, and sold in North America as either sultanas or Thompson raisins - the name of the farmer who first started growing them in California at the end of the 19th century. The grapes are usually sun-dried for several weeks until their skin wrinkles and darkens in colour and they've developed their signature, deep caramel flavour. Besides being excellent for baking and cooking, these raisins are also a delicious snack by themselves.

Golden Raisins: Pale in colour, these amber jewels are usually sold alongside the dark-coloured raisins mentioned above, and while they look different, they're actually from the very same variety. The difference is in their method of drying. Golden raisins are treated with sulfur dioxide to prevent their skin from darkening and then dried with artificial heat. They tend to have a more acidic taste and are especially good in stir-fries and savoury dishes.

Currants: The tiniest of the bunch, currants are made from Black Corinth grapes to become Zante currants when dried - named after a Greek Island that was once a major supplier. The currant's distinct, tart taste makes it more ideal for baking than eating out-of-hand.

Store your raisins in an air-tight container in a cool dry place for two months or in the fridge for up to one year. If your raisins are especially dry, plump them before using by soaking them for 5 - 10 minutes in some or all of the liquid called for in the recipe.

For easy chopping, freeze the raisins first so they don't stick to your knife. This is also an excellent way to break down raisins that have clumped. Freeze them in a bag and then give the bag a couple whacks on the counter to separate the clumps into manageable clusters first.

Now that you know more about raisins, stock your pantry and start cooking any of the recipes below. They're separated by variety so you can match the recipes to what you have on hand.

Raisins

Apple Cinnamon Pizza
Almond Chicken Salad
Baked Apples with Dried Fruit and Maple Whipped Cream
Butter Tart Squares
Vegetable Biryani
Chickpea, Feta and Raisin Couscous
Streusel Apple Raisin Muffins
Sunflower Seed Granola Bars

Golden Raisins

Carrot Snacking Cake
Chicken Cauliflower Curry
Frozen Christmas Pudding

Currants

Curly Hotdog Snakes
Curried Lentil, Wild Rice and Orzo Salad
Couscous Dolmades with Lemon Yogurt Sauce

Tags: better baking, cakes & pastries

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