I love raisins. I love most dried fruits, actually: dried cranberries, blueberries, cherries, apricots, dates. They are wonderful and full of concentrated sweet fruity goodness. The problem with dried fruits is that sometimes they can be too dry. And that’s when you have to step in. Measure must be Taken. Even if your dried fruit is still relatively moist, this technique allows you another way to add some extra flavor to your muffins, pancakes, cookies, breads–whatever you’re using the dried fruits in.
Maceration, friends. Maceration is when you soak fruits in a flavorful liquid so the liquid adds some flavor to the fruit. You can macerate at room temperature overnight (if the liquid you’re using won’t spoil) or you can speed things up by bringing the fruit and the macerating liquid to a simmer and then letting the fruit soak for ten minutes or so, until it plumps up a little.
What liquids can you use? Well, you can use plain old water, of course, but there’s no reason you can’t use wine, liqueur or fruit juices. Why not macerate raisins in apple juice, or dried cranberries in cranberry juice cocktail? Macerate dried cherries in Amaretto, or dried blueberries in Chambord. Wow–the possibilities are almost endless.
So, the next time you plan on baking with dried fruits, plan ahead just a little and take the time to macerate your fruits. It’s not hard to do, you don’t need a recipe, and people really will say “Why, these are the best (whatevers) I’ve Ever Had!”