There are many reasons to like raisins

by Sanjeev Kapoor

History has it that humans discovered raisins when they saw grapes drying on their vines. Therefore, it is obvious that grapes were sun dried to make raisins as long back as 1490 BC. But then people were not able to determine which variety of grapes would make the best raisins. 

What are raisins

As you must have read in the first paragraph of this write up, raisins are dried grapes. There is no doubt that raisins are the sweetest of all dry fruits. They have a high concentration of sugars and let me tell you that if you store raisins for a long period, the sugars present in them will crystallize. If this happens, don’t worry all is not lost. Just soak in a little water or some fruit juice and lo and behold you will get soft raisins once more. 

Varieties of raisins

Raisins which are popularly called kishmish in our country are mostly available in four varieties. The black ones are called kali draksh or manukka. Then there are golden raisins which are made from white muscat grapes and oven dried rather than sun dried. The sultanas are the third variety, which come from seedless yellow grapes and are usually softer and sweeter than other varieties. The fourth variety is the currant which is made from black grapes. They are small, seedless and very sweet. 

Then there are the seedless ones and those with seeds. Seedless raisins are made from grapes with no seeds. Seeded raisins are made from grapes that normally have seeds, but from which the seeds have been removed before or after drying. The two are not generally interchangeable because the flavor is quite different. 

What are the nutrients in raisins

Raisins are rich and concentrated natural sources of energy, vitamins, electrolytes and minerals. Plus they also have several health benefiting poly phenolics anti-oxidants, dietary fibre and other phyto-nutrients.

Raisins are composed of 67-72% of fructose and therefore easy to digest. They supply the body with instant energy. They are cholesterol and fat free. They also contain vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin B. They also contain the mineral boron which is especially beneficial for women. They promote bone health and prevent osteoporosis. Boron helps the body better process estrogen and vitamin D. Moreover, 100 grams of raisins provide 5% of our daily-recommended dose of calcium, 15% of recommended daily intake of iron and 16% of daily-recommended dose of potassium.

Health benefits

The health benefits of raisins include relief from constipation, acidosis, anaemia, fever and sexual weakness. Raisins also help in weight gain, eye care, dental care and bone health.

Catechin, a phenolic anti oxidant present in raisins, can prevent tumour and cancer of colon. The fibres present in raisins can help excrete bile from the body, burn cholesterol and ensure good cardiac health.

Culinary uses

Raisins are indispensable when it comes to dry fruits. Those golden, green or black coloured delicacies are favourites of almost everybody, especially children. Raisins are widely used worldwide in cuisines (especially in desserts), health tonics, as snacks and also as food for mountaineers, trekkers etc.

If you remember I had mentioned umpteen reasons to use raisins. They are used to make sweet and sour chutneys or energy bars. They are also widely used in cookies, in salads, in chiwdas, pulaos, halwas, payasams, kheers, laddoos. Perhaps there are few who do not like rum and raisin in making cookies, cakes, ice creams, etc. 

Recommended recipes-

Orange Raisin Muffins,  Gajar Aur Kishmish Ka Salad,  Peanut Raisin Bar,  Spinach With Raisins,  Chocolate, Raisin And Nut Drop Cookies,  Cinnamon Raisin Bran Muffins,  Yellow Rice With Raisins,  Cucumber And Raisin Raita,  Carrot Salad With Raisins, Nuts And Sour Cream,  Walnut Raisin Cookies

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MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal www.sanjeevkapoor.com is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.