Archeological finds of raisins dating as far back as 2,000 years B.C. indicate that raisins are native to the Mediterranean region. Researchers assume that raisins were discovered by accident as the grapes were drying on the vine.
The Old Armenians were among the first to cultivate grapes and to use them for producing raisins, which were then sold in nearby Ancient Rome and Greece. However, it was the Knights Templar who spread the raisins to other European countries, who discovered them on their voyages across the Mediterranean countries, but not until the 11th century. However, due to the increasing demand and improved transportation conditions, raisins were soon available across most parts of Northern Europe.
In the 19th century, the USA gained the reputation as an important producer of raisins.
In Slovenian culture, raisins are without doubt one of the most popular dried fruit. Raisins are added to “potica” (nut roll) fillings and other pastries, phyllo dough treats, muffins, etc. Raisins are a common ingredient in nut mixes, breakfast cereals, chocolates, and many more.
Raisins complement vegetable and meat dishes with their sweet flavour and juicy texture.
When baking, raisins are often soaked in a mixture of water and rum, lemon juice or plain water.
Raisins are traditionally sun-dried, but they can also be dried in the shade or mechanically. The colour of dried raisins depends on the drying method. Raisin varieties depend on the grape variety used. The most common varieties in Slovenia are “the sultana” (small brown seedless raisins), golden raisins (golden-brown raisins treated with sulphur oxide) and Thompson (large dark raisins).
Because of the hard skin, which prevents water from passing through the grapes, grapes must be pre-treated to increase the water extraction. After the drying process, raisins are cleaned with water, dried (if necessary) and a small amount of vegetable oil is added to prevent them from sticking together.
It takes an average 4 tons of grapes to produce one ton of raisins.
Half of all raisins are produced in California, USA.