This year for the first time ever, I made RAISINS! People have been making them for thousands of years, but still I feel like I have just invented the wheel. This is a fantastic accomplishment, and it is NOT DIFFICULT!
First I have to tell you about our grape tree. It is probably the only one in the world. It is actually an old cherry tree that died, and I lopped the branches off short, planted a couple of grapevines at the base and trained them to climb into the branches. I prune it every year so all the grape leaves are at the top among the branches, and the trunk area just looks like a trunk, brown and woody without any leaves. The grape clusters hang down from the branches of the tree, peeking through from among the leaves. Next year I will take a picture to show you. The variety is Niagara, which does extremely well in our western Oregon climate. No pests seem to bother them. Niagara grapes grow in large, dense clusters of small, green, seedless fruits, and they are deliciously sweet. But as in many fruits, they come in all at once and there are way too many to just eat fresh, although we try to eat as many as we can. I gave a boxful to my daughter Amila, who, a few days later, brought over some raisins that she had made using her dehydrator. And ohhhh, they are delicious! They are smaller than the raisins you buy in a store, which is nicer in some ways because their sweetness comes in little bursts. These would be really great in muffins or cookies, etc.
Well, if Amila can do it, so can I, so I got instructions from her and made my own. It’s so easy.
Makes 1 quart.
What You Need:
• Dehydrator (or I used cookie drying racks covered with a piece of fiberglass screen-door screening and my oven).
• 5-6 pounds of grapes
First, you rinse the grapes well. Bring a big pot of water to a boil and immerse the grape clusters in the boiling water for about a minute. This creates microscopic tears all over the skins so they dehydrate faster. Pull them out of the water, drain and cool. Pull the grapes off the stems and rinse off the little bits of twigs and debris if needed; this is the only part that is any work. Spread grapes out one layer thick on a rack. I use cookie drying racks covered with a piece of fiberglass screen-door screening.
Place in the oven at 135˚ for four to six days (or 24 hours in a dehydrator), and remove when thoroughly dry. Allow to cool to room temperature before packaging.
They will keep beautifully for months, even years, in glass jars with a lid. The photo of the dark raisins are mine, which were dried in an oven. The light raisins were dried by Amila in her dehydrator at the same temperature for much less time; the difference is that her dehydrator has a fan.
Enjoy your raisin-making!
More homemade gift ideas from Jeanne:
Crispie Almonds Cheese Sticks Chocolate Sandwich Cookies Homemade Tea Favors