As a child, I often ate raisins from the little red, Sunmaid boxes. Anyone remember those? I was well into my adult years before I learned how to make homemade raisins. The flavor surprised me beyond words. It was rich and fruity, so unlike the sugary taste of “Sunmaid.”
It’s too good to not share. Here’s a simple tutorial for you to follow!
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 Grapes
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 a full, even layer.
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) shell.
How to Make Homemade Raisins
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. When raisins begin looking like raisins, check them every 30 minutes.
How to Tell If Your Raisins Are Done
Raisins are ready when wrinkled and slightly rubbery in texture. Test by pressing a few between your forefinger and thumb.
Unfortunately 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 Homemade Raisins
Here are 3 ways to avoid spoilage when your grapes vary in size. I’ve listed the best options below!
Method #1: Sort As They Dry
Pick through the oh-so-sticky fruits as each size reaches the “perfect raisin” state. Remaining fruits should continue dehydrating until they are perfect and ready for shelf storage.
Method #2: Dehydrate Until Crisp
If you don’t want to pick through your raisins, you can dehydrate them to a crunchy state. They’ll keep well on the shelves and will semi re-hydrate when added to muffins, oatmeal and other hot foodstuff.
Method #3: Freeze Your Raisins
In my kitchen, the problem is resolved via the freezer! Filling quart jars with raisins that vary in moisture levels, I 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 and you’ll be so glad you learned how to make homemade raisins!
Quick Tip for Cleaning Your Dehydrator
Before I let you go, I want to give you quick tip on cleaning the dehydrator. 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, it isn’t anything hot water can’t remove!
Oh yes. Making raisins is a sticky business, but it’s also a tasty one with flavor you won’t get anywhere else!