It`s an odd time of year to make raisins for us – grapes are hardly in season and won`t be for some time. But there`s a few reasons that motivated this effort:
- I am doing a bunch of other dehydrating. Our dehydrator raises the temperature of our kitchen by several degrees. Since we`ve planted seeds for the gardening season I`m using the opportunity to dehydrate and to add warmth to the room they`re in (I keep them on top of the highest furniture where they get the most warmth).
- I`ve tried raisins a few times and not been happy with the results. Doing small batch off-season experiments are a great way to learn and allow you to develop skills and determine if you want to make larger batches mid-season.
The difficulty in drying grapes is two-fold: there`s a lot of moisture and a tough membrane (the skin) which makes the evaporation of it`s water content difficult. There are two ways to over come this:
- `Check`the skin by breaking it. This typically means piercing it with a skewer, toothpick or needle or freezing it to burst the skins. I believe you could also drop individual grapes in boiling water for moments to do so (this works great for cranberries which suffer a similar fate).
- Cut them.
Piercing can actually take more work than slicing – and the drying times can be considerably longer. A sliced grape will dry in 12-20 hours while a pierced whole grape will become a raisin in 24-36 hours (we dry all of our fruit at 135 F or 57 C). Sliced grapes have a slightly odd shape when dried as a raisin but I love them!
Home dried grapes, like much dehydrated food, are simply superior to commercially bought product. The texture is closer to a date – almost crispy on the outside with a chewy inside. These were super sweet and I`d use a fraction of the amount of these compared to commercial raisins.
Any thoughts we`ve missed on raisins? They`re well worth making and we`ll be ready for when the season hits this year.