May 4, 2015

Do you Raisin ?

Raisins, when was the last time you thought of raisins?

Do you eat raisins, do you like them ?  

Do you have any in your food pantry today ?

Did your MOM pack the little SUN-MAID red boxes in your lunch sack in elementary school or junior high ?  

For the longest time I was not aware that the raisins in the little red box, had cousins in the little yellow box, the golden cousins, kin of the dried fruit hanging out in perpetuity in your pantry.

Raisins……. Wikipedia will tell you many interesting things about these dried fruits, the word raisin is French for grape.  

A raisin in its grape form contains about 78% of water.  When the fruit dries and becomes a raisin, the water content is reduced to  15%. It takes about 5 lbs of grapes to make 1 lbs of raisins. 

And because raisins keep for a long time without spoiling, they are a favorite snack among hikers, backpackers and adventurers of the seas.   

And for inquiring minds, in the little boxes of Sun-Maid raisins there are on average 129 individual fruits or dried grapes as they technically are.

From Maddie and Morgan’s perspective raisins are highly toxic
and can end a dogs life very quickly by causing acute renal failure.  Good for human consumption, deathly for canine consumption.

So back to thinking about raisins. I am sure they get a bad rap most of the time. They certainly aren’t fun, they’re not sexy, you can’t display them in a kitchen fruit bowl, you can’t slice them in any fancy way and present them on a platter at your next Sunday brunch. 

Raisins I am sure are misunderstood and most of the time ignored. I can’t even remember where the heck to even find them in the grocery store. I have to ask almost every time.

So why the post on raisins today.  Well I made my favorite tuna salad recipe on Saturday and it includes GOLDEN RAISINS. I learned of this wonderful ingredient when I visited Panama and stayed with Tichi for a few weeks, while I was working on my MFA in 2005 and 2006. Tichi prepped the raisins with great care to maximize flavor and texture.

For the raisins to be plump and delicious she drops them in hot water for just a tiny bit, then drains them and let them cools before adding them to the tuna salad.  When I first had the tuna salad with raisins at her house, I was surprised and delighted. The sweet taste of the raisins in the savory tuna salad, it was delicious.  And I’ve been enjoying this recipe ever since.

In my tuna salad I mix in Golden Raisins, finely chopped celery, finely chopped radishes and I add sweet pickle relish to taste.  Of course a tiny bit of salt, lots and lots of fresh cracked pepper and Duke’s mayonnaise.  I mix this all well and let the tuna salad sit in the fridge until it gets very very cold.  It is one of my favorite, easy, go to meals.   

My other favorite way to have golden raisins, on very cold mornings mixed in with oatmeal.  My DAD used to enjoy a slice or two of well toasted raisin bread and somewhere in my memory I think my Grandma Minnie Rodewald from Iowa made raisin pies.  

The Sun-Maid Golden Raisins are not forgotten in my pantry.  If you have any crazy good recipes with raisins, let me know what they are.  Perhaps these tiny, awkward, bashful fruit can gain some standing in the pantries of today.