Published April 1, 2011. From Cook's Country.
When a recipe calls for golden raisins, your choices are surprisingly limited. But which is the best brand?
When a recipe calls for golden raisins, your choices are surprisingly limited. Only a few brands are available nationwide; they are processed practically the same way, and from the same grapes usually grown in the same region (California). Thompson Seedless green grapes (which are also the source for dark brown raisins) are dehydrated in ovens and treated with sulfur dioxide. This preservative keeps them golden yellow and moist.
A handful of specialty-food purveyors carry organic golden raisins, which are sun-dried Black Monukka or Sultana seedless grapes. They aren’t processed with sulfur dioxide, so the raisins turn pale green or a very light tan. We mail-ordered organic golden raisins called Hunza (the grapes are grown in a Himalayan valley), to see if they differ from the golden raisins we found at the supermarket. The Hunza cost nearly twice as much.
The first thing we noticed about the organic raisins, apart from their color, was that they tended to be drier and less plump than the national brands. Sampled plain, we liked the organic raisins fine, but not as much as we liked the plump sugariness of conventional golden raisins. A stalwart minority preferred the organic raisins over both conventional brands, praising their “lively” and “kiwi-like” taste, but most tasters found the “malted” and “honeyed” flavors and tender texture of conventional golden raisins more to their liking. Would it matter which kind of golden raisin we used in Morning Glory Muffins? No: All three brands passed muster in this round.