Monday, July 19, 2010

raisins

Raisins are simply dried grapes. Harvested in August, grapes are traditionally spread on paper trays and sun-dried for two to three weeks. Dark raisins are sun-dried for several weeks, which produces their dark color and shriveled appearance, whereas golden raisins (sultanas) have been oven-dried to avoid the darkening effect of the sunlight. After drying, the stems are removed and the raisins are sorted and packaged.

Soft, sweet, and bite-sized, raisins make a healthy out-of-hand treat. They can be added to granola and trail mix, used to add color and sweetness to salads, and are frequent additions to candy, cereals, cookies, muffins and breads. Before using raisins in baked goods, plump them by soaking them in water for 15 minutes or simmer them for several minutes.

Raisins are a good source of energy thanks to its carbohydrate content. They also contain vitamins B1, B2 and various minerals, which are important in helping child growth, curing diseases with inflammation and fever, also kidney and liver diseases. This makes raisins an excellent natural supplement for women during pregnancy. A new research sponsored by the California Raisin Markating Board shows that raisins are a good source of inulin, a naturally occuring fiber-like carbohydrate that helps keep the colon healthy from cancer.

Raisins can be stored, tightly wrapped, at room temperature for several months. For prolonged storage, they should be refrigerated in a tightly sealed plastic bag. Look for plump raisins that show no signs of being overly dry or with visible sugar crystals.

RECIPE
Raisins and Pineapple chutney
Perfect combination of sweet and sour that complements your rice and fried eggs. The chutney keeps very well in the refrigerator. Store in a glass jar only.

Ingredients
1 1/2 cup sultanas
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup orange sauce
5 shallots, cut into quaters
3 star anise
2 green chillies, halved lengthwise
1 can pineapple cubes
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp salt

Pounded ingredients
8 dried chillies, soaked
1/2 thumb size ginger
3 pip garlic

Method
1) Put sugar, salt, vinegar, cinnamon stick, star anise and pounded ingredients into a pot. Boil till sugar dissolves. Stir constantly to prevent burning.
2) Add in pineapple cubes, raisins, shallots, green chillies and orange sauce.
3) Simmer mixture until it starts to boil. Turn off fire.

Source: Home Cooking Magazine, September 2003

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