Definitions

raisin

raisin

[rey-zin]
raisin, dried fruit of certain varieties of grapevines bearing grapes with a high content of sugar and solid flesh. Although the fruit is sometimes artificially dehydrated, it is usually sun-dried. The culture of grapes for the production of raisins is limited to regions with a long, hot growing season because the grape must remain on the vine until fully mature in order to attain a high percentage of sugar and because enough time must elapse between harvesting and fall rains to permit sun-drying. Raisins are produced from grapes of the European type (Vitis vinifera). Most seedless raisins, especially in California, are produced from the Sultanina, or Thompson, variety of seedless grape, known in international trade as the Sultana. A different variety, produced in California, is known there as the Sultana. The Muscat, a very ancient variety, is noted for its flavor and meatiness, but it has seeds and is somewhat sticky; it is commonly marketed in clusters for table use. Raisins of sharp flavor and firm texture are often called currants (although unrelated to the true currant) and are preferred for certain bakery products. Grapes have been dried for out-of-season consumption from ancient times and were important in early Mediterranean trade. Spain, Asia Minor, and Greece were long the centers of cultivation, but in the 20th cent. Australia is an important producer and California is the leading producer. Raisin production was introduced in California by Spanish missionaries in the late 18th cent. and began to assume importance after 1875. Today most seed grapes are seeded, and many grapes are bleached and dipped in oil to improve their appearance. About 31/2 lb (1.6 kg) of grapes yield 1 lb (.45 kg) of raisins. Raisins are valuable nutritionally because of their sugar, mineral (especially iron), and vitamin (B and A) content.

Raisins are dried grapes. They are produced in many regions of the world, such as the United States, Australia, Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Greece, Turkey, India, Iran, Pakistan, China, Afghanistan, Togo, and Jamaica, as well as South Africa and Southern and Eastern Europe. Raisins may be eaten raw or used in cooking and baking.

Etymology

The word raisin dates back to Middle English and is a loanword from Old French; in Old French and French, raisin means "grape," while, in French, a dried grape is referred to as a raisin sec, or "dry grape." The Old French word in turn developed from the Latin word racemus, "a bunch of grapes." The origin of the Latin word is unclear.

Varieties

Raisin varieties depend on the type of grape used. Seedless varieties include Thompson Seedless (Sultana) and Flame. Raisins are typically sun-dried, but may also be "water-dipped," or dehydrated. "Golden raisins" are made from Thompsons, treated with Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) , and flame dried to give them their characteristic color. A particular variety of seedless grape, the Black Corinth, is also sun dried to produce Zante currants, mini raisins that are much darker in color and have a tart, tangy flavour. Several varieties of raisins are produced in Asia and, in the West, are only available at ethnic specialty grocers. Green raisins are produced in Iran. Raisins have a variety of colors (green, black, blue, purple, yellow) and sizes.

Regional variations

In the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, the word raisin is reserved for the dried large dark grape, with sultana being a dried large white grape, and currant being a dried small Black Corinth grape.

Nutritional value

Raisins are about 60% sugars by weight, most of which is fructose. Raisins are also high in antioxidants, and are comparable to prunes and apricots in this regard.

Sweetness

Raisins are sweet due to their high concentration of sugars. If they are stored for a long period, the sugar inside the fruit crystallizes. This makes the fruit gritty, but does not affect its usability. To de-crystalize raisins, they can be soaked in liquid (alcohol, fruit juice, or boiling water) for a short period, dissolving the sugar.

See also

References

  • {{cite conference | author=C. D. Wu, J. F. Rivero-Cruz, M. Zhu, B. Su, A. D. Kinghorn | title=Antimicrobial Phytochemicals in Thompson Seedless Raisins (Vitis vinifera L.) Inhibit Dental Plaque Bacteria

| booktitle=American Society for Microbiology meeting. June 5–9. Atlanta | year=2005 | pages= |url=http://www.abstractsonline.com/viewer/viewAbstractPrintFriendly.asp?CKey={F2F471D3-4975-4531-91A3-99EF6E664CEC}&SKey={A60C59D2-2740-438F-8EDB-FBCA9A4ED3C2}&MKey={382D7E47-BE0B-4BBA-B3A6-E511C92FA999}&AKey={32093528-52DC-4EBE-9D80-29DAD84C92CE} }}

External links

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