California Raisins are shelf stable and require no preparation. They are ready to go, right out of the package.
For some preparations, however, better results may be obtained by reconstituting or “plumping” them. This process allows moisture to enter through the skin to soften the texture and add juiciness to the raisin. There are several ways to do this.
- Soak them in the liquid part of the batter in which they are to be cooked, such as the liquid called for in cakes or breads, for 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and add liquid as directed in the recipe and then stir in raisins as indicated.
- Pour hot tap water over the raisins just to cover plus just a little extra and let stand up to 5 minutes or until the fruit is plump and juicy. If any excess water is to be discarded, do not soak more than 5 minutes to prevent loss of flavor and nutrients.
- Rinse and quickly drain the raisins and spread in a single layer onto a baking sheet. Then, cover tightly with foil and heat in a 350°F oven until they puff up and are no longer wrinkled.
- Raisins may also be covered with water; heated and simmered until all the liquid is absorbed or evaporated. Cool these before adding to batters or dough.
- Sometimes, raisins are infused with flavors by soaking in fruit juices, liqueurs or flavored syrups. Most recipes will specify that these be soaked for several hours or overnight and excess liquid is added to the preparation along with the plumped raisins to enhance the desired flavor as well as to preserve nutrients.
- To chop raisins, use a lightly oiled knife or blade to prevent sticking.
- When preparing batters and dough, dredging the raisins in a small amount of flour will keep them from sinking to the bottom of the pan. Do not condition raisins in excessively hot water. For best results, raisins should be about 75°F at the end of the process.