We constantly see raisins in muffins, in cottage cheese, in compotes or pilafs. They are dark or light, small like peas, small and round, or very large and elongated. And if you walk around a large market or go to a specialized site, you can find a dozen varieties of this dried fruit. How to choose the right raisins, how not to get confused in such a variety and what questions should you ask the seller to choose a quality raisin suitable for a particular dish?

When raisins appeared and what they are

The word “raisin” itself comes from the Latin racemus, which means “bunch of grapes or berries”. When the first ancient man first tasted the naturally dried berries on the vines, we can not know. But we do know that it was the Phoenicians who invented raisins. In the Middle Ages, dried fruit came to Europe, and then to America. In our country it appeared during the Tatar-Mongol yoke.

Raisins are dried berries of grapes of thin-skinned varieties with dense pulp. It is an absolutely universal dried fruit, which can be used to prepare a huge number of dishes and even replace them more expensive dates or dried figs. Varieties of raisins are quite a lot, and all of them differ from each other in size, flavor, usefulness and price. There are 4 main types:

  1. Light-colored small seedless raisins. Used in baked goods, vegan desserts and in the production of beverages, including alcoholic beverages.
  2. Medium-sized light-colored raisins with seeds. It is added to some types of pilafs, sauces, desserts and kvass.
  3. Dark raisins without seeds. It is traditionally put in muffins, kulichi, in muffin buns. They stuff meat rolls and chicken, as well as add to game dishes and sweet pilaf.
  4. Large dark raisins with seeds. Used in cakes, puddings and beverages.

What are the trade names of raisins

how to choose the right raisins - 2
how to choose the right raisins – You can find raisins under different trade names on store shelves: malayar, sabza, shigani, golden

Our shelves are mostly stocked with the following types of raisins. Please note that these are not varieties as such, but only trade names:

  1. Malayar – soft, moderately sweet raisins of medium size without seeds. Usually light brown in color. Suitable for baking, beverages and simply as a snack.
  2. Sabza is a seedless raisin that comes from the sultana grape. It is treated with alkali solution or sulfuric gas during production, so such raisins need soaking.
  3. Shigani is a dark, almost black or blue seedless raisin. In old culinary terminology it was called “corinka”.
  4. Golden – light seedless raisins with a rich sweet flavor. It is universal, excellent for baking and meat dishes.

How raisins are dried and why it is important to know it

There are several methods of drying grapes, so raisins prepared by different methods differ in taste and price. Be sure to check this information with the seller before buying to be completely sure of the quality of the product.

  1. The most valuable and expensive is considered soyagi – raisins dried in the shade, without heat treatment and chemical influences. Such a product is very useful, as it retains all the flavor and properties of fresh grapes.

2- Very beautiful golden raisins califar. During the drying process it is fumigated with sulfur gas and soaked in lye, which, of course, affects the flavor and usefulness.

  1. oftobi – raisins made from fallen and sun-dried berries of black grapes. It is characterized by moderate sweetness and slight sourness.
  2. objesh – raisins obtained as a result of sun-drying the berries of light-colored grapes that have fallen from the brushes. It is chemically treated and can be stored for a long time. It is considered the least valuable.

How to choose quality raisins in the store or on the market

It is better to buy dried fruit (any kind, not only raisins) by weight and from a trusted supplier. So you can fully appreciate the appearance and odor of the product. Quality raisins are dry, elastic, without excessive shine, signs of spoilage and smoky aroma. The berries are not wet and do not stick together, and the skin is wrinkled.

If the raisins are too oily, have an extraneous odor or are very hard, it is better to refrain from buying. As in the case of bright and shiny light raisins – this is not a sign of quality at all, but evidence of chemical processing. Dark raisins should also be lightly rubbed with your fingers. This way you will immediately realize if the production used dye.

Raisins “with a tail” is considered more valuable, since the grapes were not damaged during harvesting and did not lose part of the juice during drying. By the way, feel free to taste it, and also lightly toss a few berries. If they fall with a slight thud, like small pebbles – raisins are of high quality.

Why you should soak raisins

how to choose the right raisins - Why you should soak raisins
how to choose the right raisins – Why you should soak raisins

Even buying the most expensive dried fruit in an elite store, you cannot be completely sure that it has not been chemically treated. Therefore, it is advisable to soak raisins in hot water for about 30 minutes. So you will definitely get rid of dust and sulfite plaque. In addition, in soaked form, it is considered more useful, since it also contains “raisin water”.

What raisins to add to pilaf

To date, there are several dozen types of pilaf in the world, so it is simply incorrect to say that there is a single and “correct” recipe. For example, in traditional Uzbek pilaf often add raisins osh-magiz, aka raisins, and in sweet Indian – the largest black raisins with a pit. In addition, there are types of pilaf that provide for the simultaneous presence of both dark and light raisins, as well as dates, apricots and other dried fruits.

The main thing here is to choose high-quality and tasty raisins, which will give the pilaf a beautiful color, asian aromatic taste and a very slight sourness.

Pilaf with raisins and other dried fruits

how to choose the right raisins - Pilaf with raisins and other dried fruits
how to choose the right raisins – Pilaf with raisins and other dried fruits

Pilaf with dried fruits is not a dessert, but a full-fledged second course, which is suitable for vegetarians, fasting and those who like to try new flavors. The main rule of this Eastern dish is that it should be crumbly.

40 minutes

2 portions

  • basmati rice – 200 g
  • pumpkin seeds – 50 g
  • vegetable oil – 4 tbsp.
  • apricots – 4 pcs.
  • prunes – 4 pcs.
  • dark raisins – 1 tbsp. l.
  • light raisins – 1 tbsp.
  • mint – 2 sprigs
  • ground turmeric – 1 tsp.
  • dried mint – 1/2 tsp.
  • sweet paprika – 1/4 tsp.
  • salt
  1. Scald the dried fruit with boiling water, then pat dry with paper towels. Cut apricots and prunes into slices.
  2. In a deep skillet, heat the vegetable oil, put the dried fruit and pumpkin seeds. Season with paprika, dried mint and turmeric and fry for 3 minutes.
  3. Pour the rice into the pan, salt and 350 ml hot water. Cook under a lid over a low heat for 15 minutes. Stir gently a few times.
  4. Ready pilaf spread on plates and sprinkle with fresh mint.


The same version of pilaf can be made in a non-vegetarian version, adding a meat component. Chicken or turkey will be ideal.


Pumpkin seeds for a crunchy texture can be not added immediately while cooking pilaf. They can be roasted on a dry pan and then sprinkled separately on the finished dish in plates.

Which raisins are preferable for baking

Raisins are often added to pastries, desserts, breakfast cereals and muesli. Primarily as a natural sweetener and flavor enhancer. Raisins also improve the texture of dough, making it more moist and preventing brittleness. Here, as in the case of pilaf, both light and dark raisins are suitable, so focus on your taste.

To prevent raisins from “sweating” in the dough, they are often soaked in alcohol – in brandy, liqueur, dessert wine, etc. Such preparation allows you to fully reveal the taste of dried berries and give them an additional flavor. This trick is also often used in the case of too sour or sugary-sweet raisins.

Honey kulich with raisins

how to choose the right raisins - Honey kulich with raisins
how to choose the right raisins – Honey kulich with raisins

Thanks to the raisins and honey, our recipe makes a very tasty, dense and slightly moist kulich. It also keeps well, getting better with time.

preparation: 2 h, cooking: 5 h

8 portions

  • flour – 500 g
  • butter – 400 g
  • eggs – 7 pcs.
  • raisins – 120 g
  • brandy or rum – 100 ml
  • honey – 100 g
  • compressed yeast – 30 g (or 15 g dry)
  • salt – 2 tsp.
  1. Cover the prepared raisins with boiling water, dry them and pour cognac or rum over them. Cover with foil and leave to infuse for 2-24 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Crumble the yeast into the flour, add the honey and 4 eggs. Using a mixer, mix the ingredients, then one by one add the remaining eggs, each time kneading the dough well.
  3. Add the salt and the room temperature butter cut into pieces. Knead until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. It should be very soft, sticky and smooth. Transfer the dough to a large bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to rise for 2 hours in a warm, draft-free place.
  4. Transfer the risen dough (it will be sticky) to a floured work surface and knead. Add the raisins with the liquid and knead. Put the dough back in the bowl, cover with clingfilm and place in the refrigerator for 1.5 hours.
  5. Knead the dough, place on a table and knead again. Spread the dough into the kulich molds so that it occupies no more than half of the volume. Allow to rise, 20-30 minutes.
  6. Bake the kulichi until ready: they should rise a lot. Cool by laying them sideways on a towel-covered cushion.

Raisins for meat, fish and salad

If you plan to add raisins to a salad, then it should be washed, dried, splashed with apple or wine vinegar and left for 15-20 minutes.Such dried fruit works well with grilled vegetables, with greens, fish and lean meat. Both dark and light varieties are suitable here – your choice.But for meat, in particular pork and turkey, it is better to take large dark raisins without seeds.

Mackerel stuffed with onions, raisins and nuts in the oven

how to choose the right raisins - Mackerel stuffed with onions, raisins and nuts in the oven
how to choose the right raisins – Mackerel stuffed with onions, raisins and nuts in the oven

The traditional Middle Eastern combination of fish with raisins and nuts may seem unfamiliar at first. But once you try it, you’ll love it.

1 h

4 servings

  • gutted mackerel – 4 pieces (250 g each)
    white onion – 2 pcs.
  • raisins – 3 tbsp.
  • pine nuts or cashews – 40 g
  • parsley – 1 small bundle
  • ground cinnamon – 1 pinch
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Soak wooden toothpicks or skewers in water for 30 minutes. Remove the gills from the fish. Make 2 incisions along the backbone, on either side.
  2. With scissors, cut off the backbone at the head and tail and remove it. Gut the fish through the back. Rinse the carcass well under cold running water and pat dry inside and out with paper towels.
  3. Cut out some of the flesh from inside the fish (it will be needed for stuffing) and chop with a knife. At the same time, try to remove as many bones from the fish as possible.

4 Chop the parsley. Finely chop the onion and fry in oil until golden. Add the pine nuts and raisins, season with cinnamon, salt and pepper. Simmer over low heat for 3 minutes.

  1. Remove from heat, add chopped fish flesh and parsley. Stir and stuff the fish, securing the cut with toothpicks or skewers.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180 ° C. Wrap each mackerel in foil and secure properly. Bake for 25 minutes. Unwrap the fish and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.


Mackerel and mackerel stuffing can be spritzed with a little lemon juice to balance the sweetness of the raisins and balance the fishy flavor of the mackerel.


Serve stuffed mackerel with rice, couscous or with bulgur and fresh herbs.

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