The raisin is the dried fruit of some varieties of black and white grapes. Raisins may be dried naturally in the sun or by artificial heat. Some small raisins are naturally seedless and others may be seeded, or not, before drying. The large Muscatel raisin is the most flavoursome and is sold as a dessert fruit. It is also delicious mixed with nuts as a snack.
Raisins were originally produced in the Mediterranean areas – Turkey, Iran and Greece, but are now produced extensively in California, South Africa and Australia.
Raisins contain a small amount of iron and because of a considerable amount of natural sugar, quite a lot of calories. A very versatile fruit, the raisin can be used in salads, sauces, puddings, pies and cakes, and gives sweetness and flavour to jams, mincemeat and chutneys. It may be added to meat dishes either in the cooking liquid or as an ingredient in the stuffing, as the sweetness goes well with meat.