Also Known as
Kismis, Kishmis, Kishmish
Raisins are simply dried sweet grapes, of course. Until medieval times, raisins were the second in choice as a sweetener, honey being the top choice. At one time in ancient Rome, raisins were considered so valuable that two jars could buy a slave.
Most raisins are dried naturally by the sun right in the vineyards, although some are mechanically dehydrated. Once sun-dried, a process taking two to four weeks, they are then graded, cleaned, and packed. Some raisins are kept golden in color by the use of sulfur dioxide (sulfites). These are convenient, high energy low fat snack; they are easy to pack, easy to eat and almost never go bad.
Many recipes for baked goods call for chopped, diced, or cut up raisins. To avoid the stickiness and mess. Put 2 tablespoons of flour in a plastic bag. Put in the raisins. Leave plenty of air in the bag, and then twist closed or zip to seal. Shake for about 30 seconds, or until the raisins are evenly coated with flour. Pour floured raisins out onto a floured surface (dinner plate or cutting board). Chop with a sharp knife.
Raisins can be rubbed with a muslin cloth to remove any kind of dirt or moisture. To fry raisins, add it to the well heated oil or ghee as preferred, in a pan. Fry on a medium flame as it might burn very quickly and impart an undesirable flavour and colour. Fry till it turns a little brown and texture becomes a little hard. Drain it and keep it on a tissue paper to remove any excess oil. This can be added to various Chivda or rice preparations.
To soak raisins, first wash them thoroughly under running water and then you can soak it in water, till softens. For better and quick softening, luke warm water helps. However, once soaked, further can be used to make pulp or mashed and added to any dessert, cake recipe.
How to Select
Like other dried fruits, raisins are available throughout the year. Most raisins are sold in boxes or packages you cannot see through so it is difficult to judge freshness by the eye. However, most boxes can be squeezed so you can get some idea of how fresh the product is. Choose the product that submits to pressure. Shake the box or container and avoid any that rattle loudly, an indication the raisins have dried out too much. When buying raisins in a sealed, opaque container, make sure that the container is tightly sealed and that they are produced or packaged by a reputable company.
" Raisins that are fresh and have been stored properly will require no special attention prior to eating or using in a recipe.
" To restore dried out raisins before adding them to a recipe, place them in a bowl covered with a little hot water for a few minutes. You can use the nutrient-infused liquid in the recipe.
" Raisins are a great addition to homemade granola or can be sprinkled over any breakfast cereal, hot or cold.
" Soak raisins and other dried fruits in water to soften for easy-to-make compote that is so versatile it can be served a variety of ways. Some of our favorites include served on top of Raisins go well in most baked goods. Add them to bread, muffins and cookies.
" Raisins' sweetness and texture make them a great addition to every dish.
" Add raisins, almonds, peppers and onions to brown rice to make a tasty side dish.
" Raisins keep cookies and cakes moist. Chopped raisins impart a full flavor to baked goods. Add whole, sliced, or chopped raisins to muffins, breads, cookies, and other desserts.
How to store
Storing raisins in the refrigerator in an airtight container will extend their freshness and prevent them from becoming dried out. If you purchase raisins in single serving boxes and do not want to transfer them to another container, store the boxes in the refrigerator to extend their shelf life. Raisins will be the most fresh if consumed within six months. Proper storage is important for raisins. Seal raisins in an airtight container or bag and store in a cool, dark place. Most kitchen cabinets are too warm. A month on the shelf is maximum, after which they begin to dry out, darken, and lose vitamins.
" The health and nutritional benefits of sun-dried raisins range from the classic nutrients - such as natural sugars and potassium - to newly discovered antioxidant factors, factors which have found an important place in medicine and nutrition only in the last twenty years.
" The natural sugars of raisins are a great source of energy and come packaged together with fiber and other nutrients.
" Since raisins are high in potassium and low in sodium this makes them an ideal part of a heart healthy diet.
" The fiber in raisins, combined with other food from plants high in fiber, helps to regulate intestinal function and proper elimination.
" Raisins like grapes are one of the few fruits that contain a reasonable level of tartaric acid that works together with fiber to help proper elimination and help keep the colon healthy.
" The phenolic compounds in raisins are powerful, protective antioxidants.
" When hungry for a snack reach for a handy packet of raisins for a natural satisfying snack and prevent overeating.
" Raisins have been successfully used as part of diets to lower blood cholesterol and prevent its damaging oxidation.
" Richest source of mineral boron, benefits the bones.