Raisin Hell

Meet one of the most polarizing dried fruits in the History of the World.

Meet one of the most polarizing dried fruits in the History of the World.

Personally, I am a fan of the raisin.  I kinda dig their wrinkly little skins.  I love their sweet chewiness.  I enjoy biting into one in the middle of a big old oatmeal cookie--a fruity surprise.  My friend, Nadine, loathes raisins.  Shriveled grapes, she calls them.  Yeah, I suppose they are shriveled grapes, but shriveled in a good way.  Even Joon, from Benny & Joon calls raisins "humiliated grapes."  And, while I am a fan of the film and think that betting on a poker game with items like a Salad Shooter and Pocket Fisherman makes for a Great Scene, I think that calling raisins Humiliated Grapes is taking things a bit too far.  Schizophrenia is no excuse for Being Mean to Raisins.*

There is no meh when it comes to raisins.  They do seem to be one of those Polarizing Food Items.  You have anchovy lovers and haters, Brussels sprouts lovers and haters, and raisin lovers and haters.   I guess I can see where the anti-anchovy and anti-Brussels sprouts factions are coming from, but I just don't get the whole "I hate raisins" thing.    They are fruit.  Hooray!  They are 60% sugar.  Double hooray!  They contain antioxidants.  Hooray! I'm not seeing the Down Side of any of those characteristics.  If any of you guys out there are staunchly anti-raisin or can at least understand it, please enlighten me.

Fun Things to Do with Raisins

  1. Plump them up in alcohol.  The raisins appreciate it, and so will you.  Then, you can put them in your oatmeal cookies and have the Best Oatmeal Cookies Ever.
  2. Plump them up in fruit juice.  If you're not a fan of alcohol, or you're twelve or something, fruit juice works nicely, too.  Ditto, number 1.
  3. Dip them in tempered milk chocolate.
  4. Dip them in tempered dark chocolate.
  5. Mix them with some salted nuts and dip everyone in chocolate.
  6. Cook them down with some apples, alcohol, pinch of salt, spices of your choice, some vinegar and some caramelized onions for a chutney.  No, I don't have a recipe--I just made up this idea right this very second.
  7. Cook them down with some alcohol (or juice) and a pinch of salt and maybe a splash of vinegar.  When they're very soft, throw them in the blender or food processor and make raisin jam.  It is Excellent on a cheese plate.
  8. Throw a handful of raisins in with your apples the next time you make an apple pie.
  9. Throw some in with the next pot roast you make and tailor your spices towards a Morrocan flavor profile (cumin, ginger, coriander, cinnamon, clove, etc).  I don't think Americans think enough about putting fruits with meats, but raisins work well in savory as well as sweet dishes.
  10. Cook rice in coconut milk and stock.  Throw in a handful of raisins and maybe some toasted nuts towards the end of cooking.  Yum.  Mix in some custard and call it rice pudding, or serve it as is--as a sweet/savory side.
  11. Throw some raisins on a salad.
  12. Bake a raisin pie.
  13. Cook them with some ground lamb and some herbs and spices and make little meat turnovers using some puff pastry or pie dough.
  14. Bake them into peanut butter cookies.  If the combination is good enough for "ants on a log," it's good enough for a cookie.
  15. Stuff them in your face while watching television.

So, that's pretty much what I have to say about raisins.  I'm not sure if I changed anyone's mind, but I hope I've been able to broaden you raisin lovers' horizons a little.  Any more ideas for Interesting Raisin Usage?  Let me know in the comments.

*If you want to see the Salad Shooter Scene, this is for you.  Nadine got me this movie as a birthday present years ago.  I wonder if she and Joon were trying to gang up on me.  Anyway, enjoy.


  1. says

    Oh I am on the side of raisins – in fact, I didn’t realise there was such division on the subject! I like raisin-y things in all sorts of dishes – raisins often make their way into couscous salad hereabouts, along with lime juice and mint. They also get thrown in to breakfast cereal and oatmeal/porridge and scones and… well, lots of things. And now, of course, I’m starting to thing about potatoes+raisins, who knows where that might lead!

  2. says

    I like raisins, so I can only guess that the shriveled-ness make some people feel oogy. Now that I think about it, it’s possible too that their size, color, and shape probably remind people of some unpleasant insects.

    I hadn’t heard of re-hydrating raisins until recently. How does the texture change? (Chinese red dates turn mealy and mushy upon rehydration, which I don’t like.) Hmm, guess I’ll have to try it myself.

    I’m not a big fan of raisins in salads, though. I think their straightforward sweetness is too cloying, and dried fruits with more tartness (e.g., cherries or cranberries) work out better. Or maybe I just haven’t had a good salad where raisins are held in balance.

  3. says

    Girlfriend I am with you, I am a fan of humiliated grapes. You have so many wonderful things to do with raisins I would not have thought about. The pot roast has me really thinking!

  4. says

    Hubby loves raisins and we go through cans of them…you did spark a memory of me as a young girl…my grandmother would make bread pudding with rum soaked raisins, and the only alcohol allowed in her house (was under lock and key)! I would sneak into the kitchen and slip a spoon out of the drawer, or so I thought, eating spoonfuls of their plump goodness. I was suspect of her knowing this since she would not offer me a portion of it once at Christmas one year, and gave me a look!

    I had no idea what they were soaking in until years later, just always out on the counter when we would arrive…and my dad loved her bread pudding…

  5. says

    Between the two of us, we go through the Costco-sized organic raisins in about two weeks, or quicker if I need them for baking. So here’s my question: do you know if there’s a way to recreate the old Sunshine Raisin Biscuits easily? I used to love those.

  6. Judi says

    My older sister HATES raisins – with a passion. She hates their flavor and look – gets mad when I buy them and “ruin good oatmeal cookies” with them, LOL. Of course, now I’m gonna have to make some peanutbutter ones with em….. ah the joys of being an evil sister….LOL

  7. says

    I love raisins! Great ideas to use them in cooking! I once made a raisin-caper sauce for scallops and it was excellent. Actually, this recipe was from Jean Georges cookbook – it was the only one which recipes I followed 🙂

  8. says

    I’m a true Gemini when it comes to raisins: love ’em when I don’t hate ’em! I can never predict which way I’ll go but I can tell you that I don’t like them in oatmeal cookies (like Judi’s sis) but they’re great in empanadas! On the other hand, I generally like all other dried fruits. Poor raisins . . .

  9. says

    Raisins are awesome! I often buy them with the intention of making some oatmeal cinnamon raisin cookies or something, but end up eating them all before I get around to making anything!

  10. says

    Hehe, thanks for using my raisin photo! My husband is the raisin freak (those are his raisins in the photo) in the house. He’s loved them since he was a kid and I’m indifferent to them as a standalone food. If they’re in something else, great! But I can’t eat them by themselves. GORP is the best.

    My sister can’t stand them in cooked, savory foods. She calls them “garrapatas” or ticks. But she’ll eat oatmeal raisin cookies. She’s funny like that.

  11. marybakes says

    I LOVE raisins and will try to put them with almost everything except chocolate – that is one combination I do not like at all! Loads of brilliant ideas here to try.

  12. says

    Count me in the anti-raisin camp. Especially in cookies, muffins, carrot cake… Why? I have never liked them. Too sweet by themselves, go mushy when baked, and there’s the insect resemblance, too.

    The only place I will tolerate them is in raisin bran cereal, and sometimes if they’re hidden in granola with a bunch of other, superior dried fruits like cranberries, apples, apricots, etc. And sometimes I won’t notice if they’re in a savory preparation like tagine or couscous.

  13. mim says

    I don’t believe that everything tastes better with garlic, but I believe that almost everything tastes better with raisins. Especially if they’ve been plumped up by the cooking process.

    Sole exceptions that come to mind: raisins in pound cake, and raisins eaten by themselves.

    But raisins are what saves oatmeal cookes from being a blah, “good for you” dessert. Oatmeal with raisins cooked in it (not sprinkled on it afterward) is just the thing. So are raisins in pudding–bread or rice. And one of my favorite ice cream flavors is rum raisin.

    I did once bake a raisin pie and liked it, tho I wondered whether anyone else would like it.

  14. says

    I’m actually a big fan of raisins in savory foods as well – they’re great in rice pilaf and stews, especially if it has a Moroccan feel.

  15. Kathleen B. Jamison says

    I thought these were very large. I am trying to find the name of the fruits that look like this only the size of a fist. Hope you don’t laugh to long.

    Egg not in pan on my face


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