The California Raisin Industry
There are around 2,800 California Raisin growers and 20 packers who together grow, produce and pack approximately 300,000 tons annually in an area within a 60 miles’ radius of Fresno, California – known as the central San Joaquin Valley. Two thirds of U.S. raisin production is consumed in the U.S. and Canada, while one-third is exported to nearly 50 countries with Japan and the United Kingdom being the top two export markets.
The Secret is in the drying
The key to the rich taste of California raisins is in the drying. The grapes are left to dry naturally in the intense sunlight for two to three weeks. During this period the moisture content drops to below 16% and subtle chemical changes take place within the grape, concentrating the sugars and giving the raisins their attractive blue-brown skin.
Raisin Quality Processing
Did you know California Raisins have many stages of checking procedures to ensure you get the highest standard quality of product – every time? Quality Control plays an important part of the processing of the raisins once they are at the plant. Before the raisins are taken from their bins, government inspectors use long prods to take samples from the middle of each box. Strict standards must be met to ensure each box of raisins is free of imperfections. As a result of the focus on quality the California raisin industry has the lowest MRL’s and minimal usage of pesticides in the world.
The raisins are then poured into a hopper which feeds onto a series of conveyor belts and drums that remove any remaining stems, or light weight fruit. They are then sent though a brisk vacuum air stream to catch any undesirable material. Then they are size-graded and thoroughly washed. The raisins then move past a laser sorter that uses light beams to determine if anything other than raisins is passing through the stream. If the laser determines something is not a perfect raisin, it instantly sends a small burst of air to knock the imperfection or foreign material out of the stream into a trough below, all at incredibly high speeds. Hand inspections are also carried out throughout the packaging process by quality control technicians to ensure California raisins are the cleanest, highest quality raisins in the world.
California Raisins are inspected under the most rigid standards by both plant quality control technicians and USDA inspectors throughout the packaging process. After final inspections, raisins are automatically weighed and packed in a variety of bulk industrial and convenient retail carton and pack sizes.
California Raisins are essentially dried grapes of the ‘Vitis vinifera’ Natural Seedless varietal type and are typically dried by the sun, whether it is on a paper trays or dried on the vine. Natural (Sun-Dried) seedless raisins include the Thompson seedless and other newer cultivars such as Selma Pete, Fiesta and DOVine.
Applications and Versatility
California Raisins are one of the most versatile ingredients that every professional baker/chef/food manufacturer should have. Not only are packed with healthy nutrients, but they are also cost effective, helping you to provide interesting and alternative products without exceeding your budget.
Few ingredients are as easy to use as natural California Raisins. California Raisins are a great snack just as they are or can add flavour to almost any favourite product. From simple additions to a fruit and nut mix, their use as a filling, colourant, flavour enhancer, provides manufacturers with hundreds of unique applications in all product categories.
Containing fibre, carbohydrates and antioxidants, California Raisins are perfect for providing consumers with a healthy ingredient in their breakfast pastries, cereals, and cereal bars.
In baked goods, California Raisins add propionic acid, which acts as a natural preservative. They can also extend the shelf life of baked goods and delay staling.
Fillings, chocolate covered granola bars and fruit and nut clusters demonstrate the exceptional taste and function of California Raisins. Their low water activity and pH make them a stable ingredient with high sweetening properties. They are all-natural and compatible with a wide variety of flavours.
As a Natural Sweetener:
Rich in fructose, California Raisins can be used as a substitute to sucrose-derived sweeteners in sugar-free products. They are used in diabetic food products for their ability to sustain blood sugar levels without causing the ‘let down’ often associated with high energy foods.
If you’d like to know more, The California Raisin Administrative Committee will be exhibiting at IFE in March, therefore come and visit us on stand No: N1720 at the IFE, Excel during 19th – 22nd March 2017 and we would be happy to discuss how we can help your business.
If you are not visiting IFE contact us anytime via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org