Frequently Asked Questions


Q:Are there additives or preservatives in Raisins?
Q:How do raisins affect dental health?
Q:How do Grapes become Raisins?
Q:Home Storage: How should I store my raisins?
Q:How do you plump raisins?
Q:Sinking Raisins: How do I prevent this problem in recipes?
Q:Date Codes: How do I determine the use by (best before) date?
Q:Out of date product, is it safe to eat?
Q:What effect do raisins or dried fruit have on domestic animals?
Q:What are Golden (White) Raisins?
Q:Are Sun-Maid Raisins Kosher?
Q:My recipe calls for Muscat raisins but I can’t find Muscats at the store. How do I adjust the recipe?
Q:Where did the word "raisin" come from?
Q:Why do raisins get stuck together and how do I break them up?
Q:Sulfur in dried fruit; is it safe?
Q:What are Zante Currants?
Q:Are your raisins processed in a plant that processes tree nuts?
Q:Are Sun-Maid Raisins gluten free?


Q:Are there additives or preservatives in Raisins?
A: In our Sun-Maid Natural Raisins there are no additives or preservatives. When the raisins are ready to be processed, we clean the raisins using large aspirators (vacuums), graders, and shakers to remove stems, dirt, and other foreign objects. We then do a very thorough washing in fresh water which rehydrates the raisins.

Sun-Maid Golden Raisins are cleaned in much the same way, although these raisins are treated with the preservative sulfur dioxide.

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Q:How do raisins affect dental health?
A: Research shows that raisins contain phytochemicals and antioxidants that help prevent mouth bacteria, prevent gum disease and prevent tooth decay.1 The compounds found in raisins help prevent adherence of bacteria to teeth. Additionally, a large survey of 2- to 5-year-old children showed that eating the recommended 5 or more servings per day of vegetables and fruits substantially improved dental health.2 So, in addition to their great taste, raisins provide nutrients, energy and count as a serving of fruit, while promoting good dental health.

1Wu C.D., Zhu M., Su B.N., Workman J.T., Kinghorn A.D. Phytochemicals in raisins inhibit growth and adherence of plaque bacteria. June 2003.

2Dye B.A., Shenkin J.D., Ogden C.L., Marshall T.A., Levy S.M., Kanellis M.J. The relationship between healthful eating practices and dental caries in children aged 2-5 years in the United States, 1988-1994.

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Q:How do Grapes become Raisins?
A: The sweet, sun-ripened grapes are harvested in early autumn and over 90% are sun-dried on paper “trays” in the vineyards. Over a three-week period, the sun dries them into raisins, giving them their dark color and characteristic flavor. The remaining, mainly Golden Seedless raisins, are oven-dried in the plant to retain their light color.

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Q:Home Storage: How should I store my raisins?

A: Raisins are a ‘ready-to-eat’ snack and do not require refrigeration. But, to keep dried fruit moist once a package has been opened, remember to keep under cool and dry conditions; away from heat and/or humidity, as well as concrete or brick walls. If you do want to refrigerate your dried fruit, or even if you want to store them for any length of time, be sure that they are in an air-tight container.

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Q:How do you plump raisins?
A: If raisins become dry or sugary, or if a recipe calls for ‘plumped’ raisins, follow one of two procedures:

  • In a bowl or pot, cover the raisins with boiling water or very hot tap water. Soak raisins for 5 to 10 minutes; drain and pat dry with paper towels.
  • In a bowl or on a plate, sprinkle raisins with water (about one tablespoon water per one cup raisins); cover (venting one side); microwave on high for 30 to 60 seconds; stir; cover and let stand for 2 to 3 minutes.

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Q:Sinking Raisins: How do I prevent this problem in recipes?

A: Since raisins have a tendency to sink to the bottom during baking, here are a number of suggestions to help solve this problem.

1. Select a recipe which results in a thick, rather stiff batter (such as a pound cake). A stiff batter slows the settling of the raisins.

2. Fold the raisins into the batter just before placing in prepared baking pans and place at once into a preheated oven. Reducing the time between adding raisins to the batter and baking allows the batter to begin to set with oven heat before the raisins settle.

3. For cakes, bake in round layers rather than square or rectangular pans. Each round pan of batter is thinner and more quickly set by oven heat than is the case with square or rectangular pans. The faster the batter is set by oven heat, the less the raisins will settle.

4. Whole raisins are most suitable in loaf cakes, or others made with all-purpose flour rather than cake flour. All-purpose flour results in a stronger batter which can better support the weight of raisins than is the case with cake flour.

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Q:Date Codes: How do I determine the use by (best before) date?

A: Our date codes can be read as follows: The package will read

14AUG2008 13:35 or 14AUG2008
13:35

The first two numbers (14) represent the day. In this example, it is 14th day of the month.

The next three letters (AUG) represent the month. In this example, it is the month of August.

The next four numbers (2008) represent the year. In this example, it is the year 2008.

This example indicates that the fruit will be best used before August 14, 2008.

There may also be some other numbers following the date code such as the time of production. These numbers are not part of the best before date code.

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Q:Out of date product, is it safe to eat?

A: Dried fruit should be consumed within the best before date for best flavor and color. Dried fruit is preserved by the drying process and as such does not “spoil” due to bacteria. Although it would be safe to eat, it may be unappetizing.

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Q:What effect do raisins or dried fruit have on domestic animals?

A: Raisins and other fresh and dried fruits are recognized as a valuable diet supplement for livestock. When properly balanced with dry feed, rations containing sizable amounts of culled fruits, such as raisins, can result in excellent weight gains or milk production at considerable savings.

While fresh and dried fruits can be beneficial to some animals, recent reports by veterinarians indicate that dogs which have ingested grapes or raisins have developed kidney failure. Therefore, grapes or raisins should be treated similarly as other foods that can be harmful to dogs, like chocolate, coffee, tea and cola beverages. We suggest that you contact your veterinarian immediately if ingestion has occurred, because successful treatment is most likely if caught quickly.

For more information on this topic, please visit: www.aspca.org/grapesraisins

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Q:What are Golden (White) Raisins?

A: Golden Seedless Raisins come from Thompson Seedless grapes, the same grape that is used to make our Natural Seedless Raisins (red box). Sun-Maid Golden Raisins are dried using the preservative sulfur dioxide. This form of sulfite has been used for centuries to prevent darkening of the fruit during the drying process. Sulfites also help to preserve the Vitamin A and Vitamin C contents of foods.

Golden Raisins are slightly tangier in flavor than the sun-dried raisins and they are a favorite for light fruitcake recipes and other baked specialties.

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Q:Are Sun-Maid Raisins Kosher?

A: Our Sun-Maid Raisins are certified Kosher. The “triangle K” symbol means that the product is Kosher. The ‘-P’ mark means that the products are Kosher for Passover. The Rabbi who certifies and supervises this for all Sun-Maid products is the Rabbi Dr. Joseph H. Ralbag of New York City.

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Q:My recipe calls for Muscat raisins but I can’t find Muscats at the store. How do I adjust the recipe?

A: Measure natural raisins for the recipe at an amount equal to the Muscat raisins. Add molasses or honey to the natural raisins at half that amount, i.e. for 1 cup of raisins use ½ cup molasses or honey. Place mixture in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 20 to 40 seconds. Set this aside and let cool for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the excess liquid by draining the raisins through a sieve. Use the raisins as specified in the standard Muscat recipe as a replacement for the Muscat raisins.

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Q:Where did the word “raisin” come from?

A: Raisin is a French word, derived from the Latin word racemus, meaning a cluster of grapes. And that’s what raisins are – grapes with about 85% of their moisture removed, leaving the concentrated goodness and nutrients intact.

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Q:Why do raisins get stuck together and how do I break them up?

A: One way to break up the fruit is to wet your hands and break it up. This can be a little messy, so as an alternative you might try spritzing it with a little water which should then make it easier to break up.

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Q:Sulfur in dried fruit; is it safe?

A: Most light colored dried fruits have been treated with sulfur to maintain the light color. Sulfur dioxide has historically been used in the preparation of dried fruits including dried apples, dried apricots, dried pears and golden raisins to prevent the darkening of fruits during drying. Without the use of sulfites, the fruit darkens and changes flavor as it dries. Sulfur dioxide halts these reactions which would otherwise occur spontaneously as the fruit dries.

While scientific panels continue to judge sulfites as safe for the majority of consumers, sulfites have been implicated as initiators of reactions in a small subset of the asthmatic population. Please be assured that except for a small fraction of those who suffer from asthma, sulfiting agents have a very long history of safe use. Ancient Persian writings describe the use of sulfur dioxide to preserve a safe food supply, generations before refrigeration or fancy chemicals became known. All our packages of sulfite-treated dried fruits contain a cautionary statement that the fruit contains sulfites to alert those who may be allergic.

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Q:What are Zante Currants?

A: Zante Currants: These tiny seedless raisins are sun-dried Black Corinth grapes. Their unique sweet taste makes them an ideal addition to salads, sauces, desserts and many baked goods.

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Q:Are your raisins processed in a plant that processes tree nuts?

A: No nuts or nut products are allowed or processed in our Kingsburg plant, where we produce Sun-Maid Natural Raisins and Zante Currants. Some of our products are processed at other plants that also make products that contain nuts, soy or wheat. These products are labeled with “May contain…” or “Packed in a facility that also packs…” statements, which can be found just below the ingredient statement on the packages. Certain Sun-Maid foods that contain dairy products list this item in the ingredient statement on the package.

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Q:Are Sun-Maid Raisins gluten free?

A: Sun-Maid Raisins are naturally gluten free. We do not process any dried fruit products containing gluten at our Kingsburg plant, where we produce Sun-Maid Natural Raisins and Zante Currants. Some Sun-Maid products are manufactured at other plants that also make products that contain wheat. These products are labeled with “May contain…” or “Packed in a facility that also packs…” statements found just below the ingredient statement on the package.

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