Homemade raisins are unlike anything you’ll ever taste! I’ll stake my claim: “if you’ve never had homemade raisins, you’ve never really had raisins!”
The contents of a Sun Maid box can’t begin to compare! These little jewels are rich, tasting like fruit instead of sugar. Incredibly flavorful and deliciously sweet!
The best part about making homemade raisins is the fact that grapes require next-to-nothing for prep work! It’s easy! Let me show you how!
CHOOSE YOUR GRAPES
Unless you like crunch in your raisins, grapes should be a seedless variety. Because of high liquid content, these fruits take time to dehydrate. Smaller grape varieties (approx marble size) are the preferred choice. White or red are most commonly used for raisin making.
PREPARING THE FRUIT
Harvest your grapes and give them a good rinse to remove bugs or flies. Pull the oval fruits from their stems, as you would for fresh eating. Fill your dehydrator trays with whole grapes, covering the surface in one even layer. They will shrink significantly!
Do not flatten the grapes, however tempted you may be to speed the drying process. If the skin is broken, juices will evaporate, resulting in crunchy (and empty) skins!
THE HONEST TRUTH ABOUT MAKING RAISINS
Dehydrating grapes is a tricky task because there are no hard and fast rules! Fruits vary in size and liquid content based on the variety and conditions they were grown in. If you want to make perfect raisins, a watchful eye will be the key to success.
HOW TO DEHYDRATE GRAPES
You can choose to dehydrate grapes under low or high heat. At best, high heat will accomplish the task in 2-6 hours, while low heat can take an excess of 2-3 days.
Every dehydrator is different! If you have an owner’s manual, there will be a recommended temperature for making raisins in your particular model. Holding to this is a wise idea for your first attempt!
In the beginning, check on the grapes every 2 hours. When liquid loss becomes evident, check hourly. As raisins begin looking like raisins, check them every 30 minutes. Be sure to record the temperature and time in your cookbook for next year!
HOW TO DETERMINE IF RAISINS ARE READY
Raisins are ready when wrinkled and slightly rubbery in texture. Test by pressing a few between your forefinger and thumb.
Sadly enough, there is no way to bring all your grapes to a state of dried perfection.
Smaller raisins are often overdone while the mediums will be perfect and the largest, slightly under-ready. This presents a problem if you wish to store raisins on your kitchen shelf! If there is extra moisture, the largest ones may mold.
STORING YOUR HOMEMADE RAISINS
Here are 3 ways to avoid spoilage:
1). Pick through the oh-so-sticky fruits as each size reaches the “perfect raisin” state. Remaining fruits should continue the dehydration process until they too are perfect and ready for shelf storage.
2). Dehydrate them all to a crunchy state (they’ll re-hydrate somewhat in hot foodstuff) and store on a kitchen shelf.
3). In our home, the problem is resolved via the freezer! Filling quart jars with raisins that vary in moisture levels, we tighten down lids and store dehydrated fruits in our kitchen freezer. There they are accessible for porridge, cakes and muffins.
They also make a delicious, quick snack. You won’t be able to resist their flavor!
THE DOWNFALL OF MAKING HOMEMADE RAISINS
If you’ve ever deep cleaned your dehydrator, you know what a pain it can be! With grapes, the juice does drip and those liquid-like drops evaporate into a thick, heavy syrup. I’m not gonna lie: its messy!
Fortunately for us all, it isn’t anything hot water can’t remove!
In spite of this mess, the flavor you get from homemade raisins makes it absolutely worthwhile! We do it every year and I have to confess: the stash never lasts very long!