Most people know a raisin is a dried grape. What most people don't know is that April 30 is National Raisin Day. Raisins are produced in many regions of the world and may be eaten raw or used in cooking, baking and brewing.
Raisin varieties depend on the type of grape used, and are made in a variety of sizes and colors including green, black, blue, purple and yellow. Raisins are traditionally sun-dried, but may also be water-dipped and artificially dehydrated.
There are four grades of raisins in the United States. They are classified as Grade A, B, C, and substandard based on the color, flavor and weight.
Raisins can contain up to 72% sugars by weight, most of which is fructose and glucose. They also contain about 3% protein and 3.7% - 6.8% dietary fiber. Raisins are also high in certain antioxidants but have a lower vitamin C content than fresh grapes. Raisins are low in sodium and contain no cholesterol.
Raisins are low in fat and contain important nutrients like iron, copper, calcium, and antioxidants. Raisins first became commercially popular in 1873 when a heat wave destroyed acres and acres of California grape vines. One grapes grower decided to sell the dried grapes and marketed them as a delicacy. Today, California produces half of the world’s raisin supply.
People have been dehydrating grapes to make raisins for thousands of years. The practice originated in Persia and Egypt dating back to 2000 B.C. Raisins were also highly prized by the Ancient Romans, who used this delicious snack food to barter. They also awarded raisins as prizes at sporting events.
To celebrate National Raisin Day, you can eat them in your breakfast cereal, in cookies, puddings, breads, smoothies, salads or straight from the box as a snack.