Making Your Own Raisins
Grapes thrive in our grow zone (zone 6) and this time of year is the last chance to pull grapes from the vine before they are over ripened. The variety of grape we used is called Thompsons Seedless, but making raisins can be done with any type of grape. This is a fun and easy recipe to include your children in. Our 23 month old really enjoys being included in food prep, and it is one of the things we do to raise a confident, capable child.
Full Disclosure: I'm not even a raisin kind of gal. I've never been a huge fan, I always avoided them in trail mix. These raisins are different. They have incredible flavor and chewiness that reminds me of a fruit snack and a sweet flavor that tastes like honey. I'm not kidding, these raisins will change your mind and replace all the disappointment you may have had in the past for those little red boxes.
Now that you know my secrets, and you are super pumped to change your perspective, let's talk about the tools. If you don't have your own dehydrator, please check at your local thrift store. I have seen so many of them over the years, and there are numerous things you can dehydrate at this time of the year. Think apple chips, fruit leather, herbs and spices, and beef jerky. The options are endless really, I suggest looking at Pinterest for more ideas. Dehydrators are very simple to use and one of the kitchen tools I recommend for food preservation. If you do not have a dehydrator and I haven't talked you into getting one, I have also included an oven method in the recipe below.
The first step is to wash your grapes. Place all the grapes into a colander or bowl and run warm water over them. Because ours were just coming in from outside I was careful to remove all the bits of leaves, dust and spider webs.
Remove all the grapes from the vine and carefully remove any bits of stems. If you are having issues with removing the stems or little bits of vine, just put the grapes back in the colander and re-rinse.
Place the individual grapes onto the drying trays and start your dehydrator. We used a temperature of 145 Fahrenheit. The size of your grapes will determine how long you will need to dehydrate. The grapes we used started at approximately the size of dimes and they dehydrated for about 36 hours. I recommend placing the dehydrator in a garage or outside under a covered area. While most dehydrators are fairly quiet, they do make a constant fan sound and put off a small amount of heat. Our grapes filled the garage with the most wonderful sweet smell.
The raisins are ready to be collected from the dehydrator when they have completely deflated but still feel slightly sticky. Pro Tip: Always remove dehydrated food before it has completely cooled. If you allow the raisins to cool completely they will stick to the trays in your dehydrator and it will be very frustrating trying to remove them.
We store our raisins in the freezer to avoid any mold issues. Our ideal raisin is more of a chewy, fruit snack type texture. It is difficult to store them on the shelves unless you dehydrate them completely and then the texture is very crunchy. Raisin manufactures are able to test their moisture levels and we just aren't getting that scientific here.
Grapes of your choice
*Any color of grape will work for raisins. I suggest using smaller grapes, they will dehydrate much faster. I also strongly suggest using seedless grapes, for obvious reasons.
Wash grapes and remove from vine. Carefully remove any stems.
Place grapes on drying trays. Do not fill completely, allow for air flow around grapes.
Set dehydrator at 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
Check dehydrator after 12 hours and every 1-3 hours after until raisins are completely deflated but still have a slightly sticky texture.
Remove raisins from trays before they cool. This will help avoid some frustration as the raisins will stick to the trays if you allow them to cool completely.
Store raisins in ziploc bags in the freezer. Always date and label your bags.
Follow steps 1 & 2 in original recipe.
Place grapes on a cookie try lined with parchment paper or silicon slip mat.
Bake in oven at 250 degrees for 3 - 5 hours.
Remove raisins from tray when the grapes are deflated by not completely dried, they will harden as they cool.