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The Renowned Raisins
Raisins first became popular in the year 1873, when a severe drought hit California and dried the grapes. These dried grapes were sold as raisins, giving rise to the raisin industry in California. Half of the total world's supply of raisins comes from California.

Grapes are fruiting berries that grow in bunches on woody vines. They can be eaten directly or can be processed to make a variety of products, including raisins. All dried grapes are given the generic name raisins. They are one of the most common dried fruits known to us, and one of the most versatile foods that are added to sweets as well as savory dishes. Raisins may be quite a snack as they are both full of flavor and nutrients, not to mention easy to carry around, and they don't go bad anytime soon!

They are rich in vitamin A and vitamin C. They also contain traces of vitamin B complex and vitamin K. They contain catechins, an antioxidant. Raisins contain high amounts of boron and can prevent early onset of osteoporosis in women. In addition to this, they are rich in sodium and potassium.

Depending of the type of grapes used to produce them, raisins can be called by different names and may have a different flavor.

CURRANTS

Type of Grapes Used
Currants are made from a variety of grapes called Black Corinth, and are not from fresh currants. They are called so because of their small size. Black Corinth grapes are small, seedless, round, and reddish brown in color. They have a thin skin and are juicer than other varieties of raisins available. These raisins have a tart and fruity taste, and are ideal for baking.

Names given
They are usually called Zante currants in America and simply as currants in Europe and other Commonwealth countries.

Origin
This raisin has originated from Corinth in Greece.

Processing
Due to their smaller size, drying of these grapes takes place relatively faster. They were traditionally made by drying the grapes in sun, and nowadays, they are usually dried in trays in ovens.

RAISINS

Dried grapes of any other variety are called raisins. Most commonly used varieties of grapes are Muscat of Alexandria, Fiesta, DOVine, etc.

Muscat of Alexandria
Muscat of Alexandria grapes are dull green with a fleshy pulp and moderately tough skin. It has a moderately large seed and is larger in size than Thompson seedless grapes.

Names given
They are called by different names in different parts of the world like Zibibbo in Italy, Moscatel Romano in Spain, and Muscat Gordo Blanco in Australia.

Origin
These grapes might have originated in Northern Africa.

Fiesta
The berries of this grape are oval with medium-tender skin and pulpy with a small seed. Their dried version is golden in color, but slightly darker than sultanas. These raisins are more meaty as compared to sultanas.

Origin
Fiesta is made by cross breeding different varieties of plants, and it originates from the US.

DOVine
The berries of DOVine are oval truncate, light green in color with a medium tender skin, and come with small seeds. These raisins are sweeter than Thompson seedless grapes.

Origin

This grape is again another crossbred plant, and it too originates from the US.

SULTANAS

Type of Grapes Used
Sultanas are made from a variety of grapes called Thompson seedless grapes. Thompson seedless grapes are medium-sized, greenish white in color, oval, and of course seedless with a thin skin. They tend to be plumper and juicier than the regular raisins. They are larger than currants.

Names given
In the States, they are usually called golden raisins. They are called Kishmish in Iran, Turkey, and Palestine.

Origin
This raisin has its origin in the Ottoman Empire and Southwest Asia.

Processing
Traditionally, sultanas were made by drying the grapes in a cool shade. Now this process has changed considerably, and the grapes are first treated with sulfur dioxide to prevent enzymatic browning of the grapes during drying. They are then usually steeped in potassium carbonate and oil to draw out the moisture from the grapes and hasten the process of drying at a lower temperature, thus, preventing caramelization of sugar present in grapes and maintaining its golden color.

Comparison of Health Benefits: Sultanas Vs. Raisins
  • Sultanas and raisins contain almost identical nutritional value. The differences arise in the presence of other compounds. Sultanas contain 169 times more of Kaempferol. It is a flavonoid that has antioxidant properties and can prevent cancer as well as other cardiovascular diseases. Sultanas contain 1.69 mg of Kaempferol per 100 mg.
  • Quercetin is an anti-inflammatory and antihistamine compound that can be used to relieve allergic reactions. The process of drying reduces the amount of quercetin in red grapes. Sultanas are, therefore, a better source of quercetin than other dark raisins.
  • Dark raisins are, however, a richer source of the antioxidant catechins. As compared to sultanas, dark raisins are a richer source of dietary iron. 43 g of raisins contain 0.81 mg of iron.

SULTANAS
Nutrition per 100 g (raw)
Sugar59.19 g
Protein3.39 g
Total Carbohydrates79.52 g
Calcium53 mg
Iron1.8 mg
Sodium12 mg
Vitamin C3.2 mg
CURRANTS
Nutrition per 100 g (raw)
Sugar59.19 g
Protein3.07 g
Total Carbohydrate79.18 g
Calcium50 mg
Iron1.88 mg
Sodium11 mg
Vitamin C2.3 mg
RAISINS
Nutrition per 100 g (raw)
SugarN.A. **
Protein2.52 g
Total Carbohydrate78.42 g
Calcium28 mg
Iron2.59 mg
Sodium28 mg
Vitamin C5.4 mg

Source: The nutrient values are sourced from the USDA.
** - Sugar content in raisins will vary according to the type of grapes used

Raisins are a great supplement to your breakfast, so just add them to your bowl of cereal and enjoy a big bite of healthy goodness!