Did you know that chocolate-coated raisins have long been the number one selling food item at movie theatres in the USA? Decades ago, German confectioners perfected the aerodynamic science for applying a coating of chocolate to a raisin in a tumbling cylinder and a confectionery star was born. Chocolate-coated raisins were just the beginning as confectioners everywhere found that California Raisins work in applications from bars to truffles.
Panned Raisins 101
- California Raisins are generally pretreated prior to panning. The treatments involve application of a base coating or flavor. Although most confectioners use oil coated “confectionery” raisins, others apply their own coating which involves the application of a light fat, sugar or starch coating. California Raisin packers are experts at supplying the exact right product for panning raisins.
- Before panning, raisins should be cooled. Arrange raisins on trays and place in cold storage for several hours. This gives them a harder texture preferred for panning and also facilitates separation of individual berries.
- California Raisins are free flowing and can be easily seperated prior to panning. They also have a firm skin that holds up to the rigors of panning.
- A precoating treatment seals the surface of the raisin and minimizes the transfer of moisture from the raisin to the coating. California Raisins have a low water activity between 0.51 and 0.62 at 13 to 18 percent moisture. This prevents moisture transfer and blooming and also allows a manufacturer to apply a relatively small amount of chocolate to achieve adhesion.
- California Raisins can be panned at a 1 to 1 ratio of fruit to coating.
- A typical panning procedure involves loading raisins into a rotating pan equipped with an inlet of cold dry air (60-650 F) and 40 percent relative humidity (RH).
- For a batch process in a medium-sized pan, 20 pounds of raisins are rotated at 20 to 25 rpm.
- A fat coating with a melting point: 930 to 970 F is melted and poured onto the raisins until it is evenly distributed.
- Cold air is then blown in the pan to solidify the fat film. The operation may be repeated, once or twice, to obtain a very even pre-coating.
- Raisins are removed from the pan, sifted and stored overnight in a cold dry storage area to ensure a thorough drying of the pre-coating.
Smooth surface process
- Precoated raisins are returned to the revolving pan and a warm coating is added in small amounts. When white chocolate and yogurt coatings are used, they are heated to about 1050 to 1150 F until fluid enough for even distribution. When chocolate is used and when panning is done by hand, it is recommended that the chocolate be tempered for faster setting.
- The coating layer is built up for several light, even applications, and then set with cool air at 40 to 60 percent RH. As soon as the coating is evenly distributed onto the raisins, cool dry air is blown into the pan until the layer is dried. Small batches of coating (one pound at a time for 20 lbs of raisins) are used for a smooth finish until the desired amount of coating is built up.
- A fruit coating/raisin ratio of 1:1 offers the best textural contrast and organoleptic properties.
- The coated raisins are removed from the pan, sifted and stored overnight on trays in a cold, dry storage area.
Q: Do oil coatings need to be declared on the ingredient statement?
A: No, they are a processing aid. Some of the more stable vegetable oils work best for panning, e.g., blends of coconut, cotton seed and other oils which may be blended according to conditions on the world oil market. Raisin packers may apply as much as 0.25 percent oil coating to raisins for confectionery applications.
Q: Are California raisins available with non-GMO oil?
A: Yes, suppliers will oil with non-GMO blends upon request.
Q: What is a confectionery raisin?
A: California Raisin packers have been selling to the candy industry worldwide for decades, and have developed special specifications for panners and other candy makers. These include oil coatings, special shapes and different sizes of raisins. Work with your California Raisin packer to obtain the right raisin for your product.
Q: Why should I use California Raisins?
A: Confectioners around the world, even those in other raisin growing countries, source raisins from California because of the firm skins, a result of sun drying. Sultanas, for example, are dried with an oil spray to accelerate drying, but at the same time, it softens the skin. The firm skin of the California Raisins holds up to the panning process and will not break to cause clumping which, in turn, can cause uneven distribution of coatings and bloom on chocolate.