According to the provided information, raisins are high in sugars (mostly fructose and glucose) and contain about 3% protein and 3.5% dietary fiber. They are also high in certain antioxidants, low in sodium, and contain no cholesterol. Raisins are a rich source of the mineral boron and provide concentrated amounts of polyphenolic phytonutrients. However, they have very low vitamin C content. In terms of serving size, 0.25 cup (36.25 grams) of raisins contains 108.75 calories. In the Food Rating System, raisins are rated as “excellent” sources of nutrients for which they provide a high concentration of nutrients for the calories they contain. They are especially rich in certain minerals, such as boron, and provide a good amount of fiber.
The history of raisins dates back to ancient times when man first discovered grapes and found them accidentally dried out on the vine. It took him several hundred years to narrow down the 8,000 different grape kinds to find the ones that would yield the tastiest raisins.
The earliest efforts at improving viticulture, or the cultivation and selection of grapes, are credited to the ancient Phoenicians and Armenians. Colonization of vineyards in the Malaga and Valencia (Spain) regions, as well as Corinth (Greece), was initiated by the Phoenicians between 120 and 900 B.C. (Greece). During the same period, Armenians were planting vineyards throughout Persia (Turkey, Iran, Iraq). These fertile regions provided the right latitude and humidity for growing raisins and were close to the earliest markets for raisins in Greece and Rome.
When the Phoenicians and Armenians started trading raisins with the Greeks and Romans, an era of fruitful exchange began. Greeks and Romans consumed vast quantities of dried muscats, sultanas, and currants because to their high quality and popularity.
The value of the raisins skyrocketed as their fame spread. Two jars of raisins could be exchanged for a Roman slave boy in those days, and they were used medicinally to treat everything from mushroom poisoning to senility.
During that time, France and Germany also began cultivating grapes. In the 16th century, English farmers tried growing currants but gave up when they discovered the climate was too cool to dry the fruit successfully. At the time European nations began colonising the Americas, grapes and raisins were already staples of European cuisine.
Grapes were utilised to create a wide variety of goods in Spain, including dry table wine, sweet dessert wines, and muscat raisins, due to the country’s well-developed viticulture. Naturally, when the conquistadors settled in Mexico, they brought grapes and raisins with them.
The climate of Mexico and present-day California made for ideal grape-growing conditions. Under the reign of Queen Isabella of Spain, missionaries were dispatched to Mexico to spread Christianity among the locals. By the end of the eighteenth century, these influential and powerful padres had erected 21 missions as far north as present-day Sacramento (California).
Despite growing muscat raisins, the padres primarily farmed grapes for use in producing sacramental wines. The skill of viticulture was nearly lost in 1834 when the missions were destroyed as Spain handed over colonial control to the people of Mexico.
Even so, California’s forward-thinking farmers, aided by the padres’ expertise, kept on successfully cultivating grapes for wine. The first commercially viable muscat raisin crop was cultivated in the San Diego area in 1851. Due to the city’s inability to supply adequate water for expansive vineyards, San Diego was not a suitable location for raisin production.
The San Joaquin Valley, located north of Fresno, is one of the world’s most fertile regions, making it an ideal location for raisin cultivation by enterprising farmers. The San Joaquin Valley would quickly become the epicentre of California’s raisin business thanks to the region’s ideal climate, lengthy growing season, and proximity to the water-rich Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Raisins are used in everything from baked products and trail mix to sauces and chutneys and are mostly grown in the United States, Turkey, and Iran.
● Good source of energy: Raisins are a great source of natural sugars, fiber, and other nutrients, which makes them good energy boosters.
● High in potassium: Raisins are high in potassium and low in sodium, which makes them an ideal part of a heart-healthy diet. Potassium is important for maintaining normal blood pressure.
● Good for digestive health: The fiber in raisins, combined with other fiber-rich foods, helps regulate intestinal function and proper elimination. Raisins are also one of the few fruits that contain a reasonable level of tartaric acid that works together with fiber to help keep the colon healthy.
● Antioxidant-rich: The phenolic compounds in raisins are powerful, protective antioxidants. These compounds are one of the reasons why fruits and vegetables are considered protective against heart disease and cancer, including quercetin, a powerful antioxidant.
● Good for weight control: Raisins are a natural and satisfying snack that can help prevent overeating. A few raisins can satisfy hunger and prevent snacking on unhealthy foods.
● Good for bone health: Raisins are one of the top 50 contributors to total dietary boron in the U.S. diet. Boron is a mineral that is critical to our health and has been of special interest in women in relation to bone health and osteoporosis.
● Protection against macular degeneration: Eating raisins may lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration, the primary cause of vision loss in older adults, by 36%, compared to persons who consume less than 1.5 servings of fruit daily.
● Look for plump and firm raisins that are not stuck together. Avoid buying raisins that are dry, hard, or have moldy spots.
● Choose raisins that are a uniform color. They should be rich, dark brown, and free from any discoloration or green stems.
● If possible, buy organic raisins. These are produced without harmful pesticides and chemicals.
● Raisins should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. They can be stored in the pantry, cupboard, or in the refrigerator.
● Avoid storing raisins in direct sunlight or in a humid environment as they can become sticky and develop mold.
● If stored properly, raisins can last for several months.
● If you live in a humid climate, it’s best to store raisins in the refrigerator to prevent them from spoiling.
2 cups grated carrots
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped nuts (almonds, cashews, or walnuts)
1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander leaves
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp cumin powder
Salt and pepper to taste
● In a large mixing bowl, combine grated carrots, raisins, chopped nuts, and coriander leaves.
● In a separate bowl, whisk together lemon juice, honey, cumin powder, salt, and pepper to make the dressing.
● Pour the dressing over the carrot mixture and toss to combine.
● Serve chilled as a healthy and tasty side dish.
1 cup basmati rice, rinsed and drained
2 tbsp ghee or oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup cashews
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 cups water
Salt to taste
Fresh coriander leaves for garnishing
- Heat the ghee or oil in a deep pan or pot over medium heat.
- Add the cumin seeds and let them splutter.
- Add the sliced onions and sauté until they turn golden brown.
- Add the raisins and cashews and sauté for another 2 minutes.
- Add the rice and sauté for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Add the water and salt, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cover the pot.
- Cook for 15-20 minutes or until the rice is tender and the water is absorbed.
- Fluff the rice with a fork and garnish with fresh coriander leaves before serving.