So, how do you make raisins in the sun, oven or dehydrator? The fact is it could not be easier, and the results are delicious. Homemade raisins are a great edition to any dish, from apple strudle to savoury dishes like scones. Any grape will do, but some do make better raisins than others. Varieties like Corinth make the sweetest-tasting currants. However, store-bought green and red grapes will still make tasty raisins. We will go through each process for drying grapes in this article so you can start making grapes into raisins as soon as possible.
In this artcile we will cover:
- How are raisins made?
- How to make raisins in the oven
- How to make raisins in the sun
- How to make raisins in the dehydrator
- How to store raisins
- Whats the difference between currants, raisins and sultanas?
- What kind of grapes make raisins?
- Are raisins good for you?
- The nutritional value of a raisin
- The benefits of eating raisins
How are raisins made?
Raisin production is quite simple as it is the process of drying a grape, it is that simple. There are several ways we can dry grapes which we will cover in this article but they all use the same primicple of reducing the moisture content of a grape until it is small, sweet and wrinkly. You can dry grapes into homemade raisins in the sun, oven or dehydrator. Sultanas and currants are also created by drying grapes of different varieties and processes.
You can dry picked or try drying grapes on the vine, leaving the grapes to dry on the vine is known to improve the flavour of the raisin. Grapes dried on the vine taste better because until picked a fruit will keep producing sugars making the end products sweeter.
Whats the difference between currants, raisins and sultanas?
Yes, raisins, sultanas and currants are all made from grapes. The difference is in the grape you use and how they have been dried.
- Raisins are grapes that have been dried over a while, usually for three weeks. They can be red or green, both of which turn brown in the sun.
- Sultanas are made from green seedless grapes and are treated before the drying process with an oil-based solution.
- Currants are made by drying either Black Corinth or Carina grapes which a small, black and sweet.
As you can see, all three are made from grapes, just created in slightly different ways. Raisins, sultanas and currants are nutritious and great additions to your diet. You can make any of these just like you made raisins in the oven, sun or dehydrator.
They also taste great! Making your raisins from scratch is rewarding because their flavour is much more intense. Mass-produced foods can lose some qualities and flavours.
How to make raisins in the oven
Oven-made raisins are good if you need them in a fix but doing them like this makes them quickly but it sacrifice their fruitiness and juiciness. Due to the high heat of ovens, the natural sudars present in the grape caramelise making the raisins harder and more chewy.
- Pre-heat your oven to around 100c (fan-assisted ovens are the best for this)
- Wash your grapes and dry them thoroughly
- Set them out on a baking tray lined with a baking sheet with space between them
- Place the grapes in the lower half of the oven. Yhe slower the process, the better the flavour of the raisins will be
- Leave the grapes in the oven for 4 hours or until they are ready
- If they look good, remove them from the oven or leave them a little longer if you like them less juicy
- Remove the grapes from the oven and allow them to cool. Taking them off the baking tray will help them cool faster
How to dry grapes in the sun
Making raisins in the sun is the best method for great tasting, juicy grapes. However, to make raisins from sunlight you will need up to three weeks of hot sun for optimum results. Anything less than this will likely end in rotten grapes, not raisins. In the UK, you can typically make sun-dried fruits from the end of April to August.
- Wash your grapes and dry them thoroughly.
- Set them out on a baking tray or wire rack.
- Cover with a clean and dry tea towel.
- Leave them on a windowsill or garden area where they will receive some airflow and plenty of direct sunlight.
- Leave for up to 3 weeks to dry out.
- Check-in and turn them every few days and harvest when ready
How to make raisins in a dehydrator
This method is the happy medium between time & taste. Drying grapes like this preserves the flavour, and it’s quicker than sun drying.
- Wash your grapes and dry them thoroughly.
- Set them out on the trays from your dehydrator.
- Close the unit and set it to 60c
- Leave them to dry for 24 hours.
- Rotate the trays every 2-4 hours where possible.
- Check after 24 hours, and remove and store your new tasty treats!
How to store dry fruits
Once you have made your raisins in the oven, sun or dehydrator you will need to store them. To keep your dried berries fresh and tasty, they are best stored in an airtight container like a glass mason jar or a jam jar. Stored like this in a cupboard or pantry they will keep for anywhere up to 6 months.
Are raisins dried grapes?
Yes, raisins are dried grapes, it is important to note that different types of grapes will make different types of dried fruits. The way in which the grapes are dried can also change their flavor making them more sweet or less juicy. Equally sultanas are different to raisins because they are made with the added process oil dipping.
- Black varieties – Grape types like Corinth are usually slightly smaller and sweeter than red or green varieties. Black grapes make currants that are sweeter and juicier than raisins & sultanas.
- Red grapes – These grapes are sweet and juicy, making them perfect for drying out into tasty raisins. Flame seedless red grapes are often used to make raisins in particular. They are a large and sweet variety with dark red skin.
- Green grapes – They are often used in the Sultana-making process, specifically the Thompson seedless varieties. This grape variety can create most commercial ‘Californian’ raisins.
Most commercial raisins derive from Thompson seedless grapes. They are sun-dried for about three weeks which is a technique that is also possible to do during the summer months at home, even in the UK.
Do sun-dried raisins taste better?
Yes, they taste better and here’s why. When making raisins in the oven, by sun or in the dehydrator you will end up with different results. At high temperatures, the sugars inside the grapes can caramelize and harden therefore when made slowly by sun drying, raisins tend to be better tasting.
Whilst some enjoy the flavour of oven dried raisins, it can lead to slightly less juicy and tasteful ones too.
Are raisins good for you?
Yes, raisins are very nutritious! So are sultanas and currants, full of vitamins and an excellent fibre source. Although grapes shrink considerably during the drying process, a raisin acutally has a higher nutritional content as a fresh grape. Weight for weight, a raisin has around 4x the nutritional value of grapes.
Raisins, sultanas and currants also contain reasonable amounts of antioxidants and potassium. Potassium is vital in your body’s regulation of fluids.
The nutritional value of a raisin
Below is the average nutritional value of raisins, sultanas and currants. They are very similar in their nutrient content, and a handful a day can be a good source of nurtition.
|Average per berry||Raisins||Sultanas||Currants|
|Potassium||6% RDI||8% RDI||7% RDI|
|Vitamin C||1% RDI||1% RDI||2% RDI|
|Vitamin K||1% RDI||1% RDI||1% RDI|
The benefits of eating raisins, currants and sultanas
Regular consumption of raisins is good for your health. Fibre is crucial to a healthy gut, it keeps your bowels moving which is essential in staving off things like prostate or bowel cancer and other digestive issues.
Roughly one cup of raisins per day will give you 10%-25% of your recommended fibre intake.
Do raisins make you fart more?
The fibre content in raisins can make your bowels move more regularly. More fibre can lead to increased flatulence… yes, you will fart more if you eat raisins!
Raisins are also a good source of iron, calcium & boron
In an ever-growing world of vegetarians and vegans, raisins may find a welcome home. As a great source of iron, just one cup of raisins will help with your body’s daily iron requirements which are commonly sourced through meat.
Calcium and boron are also present in raisins, currants & sultanas. These are both crucial in the body’s development and maintenance of bones.
How long does it take to dry grapes?
- Sun-dried raisins can take three weeks
- Oven-dried raisins are ready in as little as 12 hours
- A dehydrator will take 24 hours to make raisins
How many grapes do I need??
There’s no wrong or right amount for making currants and raisins. The only important thing to remember is that it is good to leave space between the grapes as they dry. Take this into account when figuring out how many you’re going to make.
If they touch, it can lead to less air circulation, leading the grapes to rot instead of dry.
As a guide, around 2 kg of grapes will make around 500 grams of raisins after drying.
Sources: Wikipedia – Raisin, Wikipedia – Grape