Drying grapes is one of the methods of preserving this fruit and also increasing its shelf life. There are a number of nutritional benefits of eating dry grapes, either as a whole or in recipes…
Whenever a mention of dry fruits is heard, the first thing that comes to the mind is raisins, also referred to as dry grapes. Dry grapes or raisins can often be seen in cookies, cakes, ice creams and other desserts. Right from kids to the elderly, everyone loves to snack on dry grapes since they are quite delicious. The inclusion of raisins can be seen in cuisines the world over, as a snack (sometimes dipped in chocolate), in health tonics and also as food for astronauts and mountaineers.
Taken in any form, these dry fruits are packed with a number of nutrients. Raisins come in different colors, like black, golden or green, based on the variety of grapes they are made from. You can purchase these dry fruits from any food store. But did you know that you can also make raisins at home, by just drying fresh grapes.
Drying Grapes at Home
Raisins are actually the dried form of fresh grapes, either black or green. The main motive behind drying the grapes is to enjoy the goodness of grapes all the year round, without them getting spoiled. Dried grapes have a longer shelf life and also can be stored in air tight containers. It is not exactly a herculean task to make raisins. The best time to dry grapes is in summer, where there is perfect amount of sunlight and heat required for this dehydration process. Here’s the method for drying grapes.
- For making raisins, you can choose any variety of grapes, be it green, red or purple. But make sure you purchase the seedless variety. (You don’t want any obstruction while you are enjoying your favorite dessert, do you?)
- Once you have purchased the grapes, remove the fruit from the stem and place them in a large bowl. Add a few drops of lemon juice or vinegar and rinse the grapes in running water. This will wash away the dust and chemicals present on the surface.
- Drain the water from the bowl and spread the grapes on a bed made of paper towels, to remove water that may be remaining. You can also pat dry the grapes using paper towels. Once the grapes have been thoroughly dried, transfer them to a cookie tray or a large platter.
- Cover the plate with a cheesecloth or an unused pillow cover and keep it in a place where it will receive direct sunlight. Expose the grapes daily to direct sunlight and after three or four days, taste a fruit to check if the raisins have been formed. If you get the taste of raisins, then you can take the plate inside. Lest, wait for a couple of days more.
- Once your dried grapes are ready, place them in a clean, dry glass jar with an airtight lid to prevent moisture from getting inside and forming mold on the raisins. You can also store the raisins in a plastic container in a cool place.
How to Dry Grapes in a Dehydrator
Another method of increasing the longevity of grapes and making them available all the year round is by using a food dehydrator. In this method an electric dehydrator is used, which helps preserve the dry grapes for a longer period of time. Though this process takes a lot of time, you can enjoy eating dry grapes at any time of the year. Here’s how to convert grapes into raisins using a food dehydrator.
- For making dry grapes in the dehydrator, you should prepare the fresh grapes so that they are thoroughly dehydrated. The grapes should be completely ripe or else the raisins may taste a bit sour. Wash the grapes properly to ensure that there is no residue like dust, chemical pesticides or fertilizers etc. on them.
- Boil sufficient water, enough to submerge the grapes, in a large pot. Transfer the grapes and allow them to blanch in the boiling water for about a couple of minutes. Once the water begins to boil over, remove the grapes and place them in cold water to stop the cooking process. Using paper towels soak up the water from the grapes so that they are dry.
- Arrange the grapes on the dehydrator tray in a manner that they do not stick to each other. Spaces in between the grapes ensure that the fruit is completely dehydrated from within as well as on the outside. Set the temperature of the food dehydrator to about 130 degrees and place the tray in the appliance. Let the tray be in the dehydrator for about 2 to 3 hours which indicates the beginning of the dehydration process.
- After you notice the grapes shrinking reduce the temperature to about 100 degrees and set the timer for about 15 hours. This slowing down process completely dehydrates the fruit and yields perfectly formed dry grapes. You can keep an eye on the grapes at regular intervals. Store the raisins in air tight containers to keep away moisture and mold.
Dry Grapes Health Benefits
Grapes taken in fresh as well as the dry form are healthy. As mentioned earlier, dry grapes are loaded with a number of nutrients that are essential for the overall development of the body system. You can reap a number of benefits by including a healthy amount of dry grapes in your breakfast cereal or eating cookies which have raisins.
- A rich source of iron, raisins boost hemoglobin and also fight against anemia.
- The boron in dry grapes is essential for the growth and development of strong bones.
- Oleanolic acid, which is a phytonutrient, promotes oral health.
- Fibrous in nature, along with tartaric acid, raisins facilitate the digestive health and prevent the occurrence of digestion related problems.
The next time you need raisins for any recipe, no need to rush to any store to purchase them. You can dry fresh grapes at home and store them.