Whether you are a chef, food manufacturer buyer, nutritionist, baker, confectioner or importer, California Raisins are the perfect ingredient or snack.
The California Raisin Administrative Committee (The RAC)
The RAC are here to promote the usage and versatility of California raisins throughout Europe across both the trade and consumer markets which in turn will increase awareness. Their marketing strategy covers a wide range of activity, from advertising to PR, but more importantly the RAC is committed to supporting the trade with new product development, and promoting quality and value for money in the trade and consumer markets.
California Raisins are used in a wide range of products, from baked goods, confectionery and snacks, even sauces. The versatility and outstanding taste makes them an extremely useful ingredient or a simple snack in their own right.
Where do they come from?
Raisins have been grown, processed, packed and shipped from the San Joaquin Valley, California for 136 years. From the early pioneering days, each generation further perfected the art of drying grapes. In recent years growing practices have been enhanced to produce a sun-dried dark raisin.
The California Raisin Industry produces an annual total of approximately 300,000 tons, in which two-thirds of the U.S. production is consumed in the U.S. and Canada, while one-third is exported to nearly 50 countries. Japan and the United Kingdom are the top two export markets.
In preparation for packaging, the raisins move through a laser sorter. The sorter’s light beams, along with a computer, continually scan the raisins to see if anything besides raisins is passing through the stream. If material other than a raisin is present, the computer sends a burst of air to knock it out of the stream of raisins and down a separate trough.
California Raisins are inspected under the most rigid standards. Quality control technicians inspect the raisins by hand throughout the packaging process, thus assuring that California Raisins are the cleanest, highest quality in the world. After final inspections, raisins are automatically weighed and packed in a variety of sizes.
What is the difference between a Raisin and a Sultana?
For years sultanas and raisins have often been confused. California Raisins are produced from seedless grapes which are left for approximately 3-4 weeks in the 40+ degrees of California sun. During drying the intense heat caramelises the natural sugars in the grapes which gives the raisins their distinctive blue black colour and rich dark flavour.
Sultanas are produced from Thompson seedless grape varietals and Turkey with an average annual crop of c.280,000MT is the world’s largest producer of sultanas. They differ from raisins in two ways, firstly finished sultanas are much lighter in colour, but more importantly, they undergo a different drying process.
During the drying process the mature grapes are dipped in a potash solution which cracks the skins and reduces the overall drying time. The drying period before being immersed in potash solution for sultanas is approximately 1 week as opposed to around 3 weeks to produce a true sun-dried raisin. Raisins have slightly stronger skins making them ideal for baking since they are less prone to disintegration. In out of the box snacking, raisins outsell sultanas by 4 to 1 in UK retail.
It is important to make the distinction between sultanas and raisins, not only because they are different end products, but because distinction creates separate profit opportunities for retailers and buyers. This is particularly important when increasingly customers are not only wanting to know what the product is that they are buying, but also where it comes from.
The California Raisin Industry offers a variety of products that are suitable for both consumer and industrial usage. The vast majority of the products offered are the ‘Vitis vinifera’ Natural Seedless varietal type and are typically dried by the sun, whether it is on paper trays or dried on the vine. Natural (sun-dried) Seedless raisins include the Thompson seedless and other newer cultivars such as Fiesta, Selma Pete and DOVine.
Did you know California Raisins can;
• Extends the shelf-life of bakery products
• Sweetens and colours natural baked goods
• Natural preservative
• Sugar substitute
• Filling for moulded chocolates
• Controls breakage in crisp cookies and crackers
• Maintains moisture in chewy cakes, soft cookies
• Natural binding agent in cereal bars
• Natural ingredient for ice cream
• Enhances the flavours of sauces