Big Man´s Raisins

24 Aug

Now, this is not a cheeky post, so don´t go thinking I´m talking about anything remotely naughty. We´re talking dried grapes, White Muscat to be precise.

So, what is the difference between a Raisin, a Sultana and a Currant?  This question came up after a recent post for Banana Bread. I had absolutely no idea so off I went to check.  It seems Raisins are dried, seeded white grapes, usually Muscat.  However, the definition I found says that they are oven dried, but more of that later. Sultanas are dried seedless yellow grapes and Currants are dried, tiny, black seedless grapes.

Having mentioned that raisins are oven dried, I´m going to contradict myself.   Malaga is famous for its raisins which are sun dried.  In fact, close to where I live you can walk around some of the fields and still see the old style drying beds for the Uvas Pasas de Malaga – which is what this famous local product is called here.

They are used to make the sweet Malaga wine, in delicious rum and raisin ice cream, in sauces made with the Malaga wine for savoury pork dishes, and are particularly sought after over Christmas when they are eaten with almonds, walnuts, cheese and typical sweet local pastries.

So, when you´ve got a couple of vines dripping with more grapes than you can ever eat, what do you do?  Big Man decided that if I could sun dry tomatoes, then he could do the same with the grapes.

No, no…he didn´t need any help setting up the drying process – thank you very much.  And anyway, the table I use in the garden for my tomatoes was being used for its preordained purpose. 

No problem, a spare bathroom ceiling tile from some recent DIY was propped on top of my paella burner, and together with a couple of blocks of wood, an olive net (to protect them from the flies) and some washing pegs (to stop the net blowing away) a makeshift drying table was fashioned.  Who needs sophisticated drying nets when you´ve got top grade equipment like that?!

And guess what? It worked! Six days of hot sunshine later and we have our first batch of Uvas Pasas.  Not sure we´ll be able to hang onto them until Christmas, so as long as the sun shines, we´re planning on making a few more batches.

Big Man is justifiably proud of his raisins, but “shhh” – don´t tell anyone or they´ll all be wanting some.

PS. For another wacky way of drying fruit, check out this amazing post over at And Then Make Soup – it goes to show that where there´s a will there is always a way.

And a final PS.which is a big Thank You to Cecilia over at The Kitchens Garden and to Tandy at Lavender and Lime for passing on the Seven Links Challenge to me.  To see how I responded and to check out some of my previous posts, take a look at a post I did a few days ago…I was lucky enough to also be nominated earlier by Karen from Back Road Journal.

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49 Responses to “Big Man´s Raisins”

  1. ChgoJohn August 24, 2011 at 00:25 #

    Your opening line gave me a good chuckle. Great way to use up the surplus grapes, too. But,let’s make something clear: no matter how cheap or appetizing the fruit, no matter how easy, no matter how tasty the end-result, I am not drying anything other than my clothes.

    • Bluejellybeans August 24, 2011 at 02:20 #

      Jajajaja, good one ChgoJohn!

    • chicaandaluza August 24, 2011 at 09:05 #

      Brilliant – very funny! Before you know it though you´ll be setting up drying equipment in your airing cupboard and posting recipes on it!

  2. Mad Dog August 24, 2011 at 00:43 #

    Very interesting and brilliant photo!

    • chicaandaluza August 24, 2011 at 09:03 #

      Thank you – am getting better with the camera (slowly)!

  3. Rachel August 24, 2011 at 02:09 #

    Thanks for the mention! Ahhhh, muscat grapes. We only get them for a short time here (I think they come from California, but I’m not sure) but they are *wonderful* if you can find them fresh!! Mmmm… love those raisins! (Grin)

    • chicaandaluza August 24, 2011 at 09:03 #

      California raisins are pretty famous – I remember my grandmother always insisting on them for her Christmas recipes. Glad you like our raisins 🙂

      • Rachel August 24, 2011 at 18:20 #

        Best grapes I *ever* ate were Chasselas http://is.gd/VhNAyD Spectacular! I gotta go back to France one of these days…

      • chicaandaluza August 24, 2011 at 19:43 #

        Had never heard of these – will have to see if I can get hold of some for the “vineyard” 😉

  4. Bluejellybeans August 24, 2011 at 02:22 #

    Hi Chica! Big man is also a clver one I see. Great post!

  5. JamieAnne August 24, 2011 at 02:44 #

    These look amazing! I am envious of your beautiful raisins.

  6. gardenfreshtomatoes August 24, 2011 at 02:45 #

    Mmmm, looks tasty! Not enough hot dry days here after the grapes ripen to sun-dry, but if I had Muscats, I’d find a way!
    Can’t find them in any market here, but I love them when we’re in France…

    • chicaandaluza August 24, 2011 at 09:01 #

      Yes, you do need low humidity otherwise you end up with mouldy grapes…not so good! Do you get to France often then?…how lovely!

      • gardenfreshtomatoes August 24, 2011 at 13:14 #

        About twice a year. Hubby goes more often. He wants to retire over there…

      • chicaandaluza August 24, 2011 at 16:08 #

        Wonderful – follow the dream!

  7. Karen August 24, 2011 at 02:45 #

    Where there is a will, there is a way. I like the inventive drying area. The raisins remind me of when we were in Italy and went into the lofts of the barns where they were drying grapes for Vin Santo.

    • chicaandaluza August 24, 2011 at 09:00 #

      The vin santo is very much like the sweet Malaga wine – which I would initially never touch. Silly me. Nicely chilled with dessert…fantastic! Hope you had fun in Italy 🙂

  8. Yvette August 24, 2011 at 02:52 #

    A great opening photo…and please is it necessary to wait till Christmas to eat all that beautiful cheese and dried fruit and of course a glass of sparkling sunshine. What a magnificient array of uvas pasas! Horray to Big Man, have you thought of preserving them under aquavita?

    • chicaandaluza August 24, 2011 at 08:59 #

      I´ve had a couple fo comments about preserving them and now I´m planning a little covert operation to pinch some to preserve…what a great idea! And I think you´re right…why wait until Christmas!

  9. ....RaeDi August 24, 2011 at 03:00 #

    Tell Big Man he did good! I love raisins and these look delicious. Love the drying method, perfect….RaeDi

    • chicaandaluza August 24, 2011 at 08:58 #

      I will – he´s very proud of his efforts..and I´m proud of him!

  10. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide August 24, 2011 at 04:56 #

    I didn’t even have that thought in my head until you said that and then I could hardly read for laughing! Bottom line, raisins good, Big Man nothing wrong there. OK, then!

    • chicaandaluza August 24, 2011 at 08:57 #

      I tried to translate this post to Big Man – some things do just get lost in translation…probably a good thing!

  11. chaiselongue1 August 24, 2011 at 07:48 #

    Wonderful to have your own raisins – they look delicious. I’d never be able to keep them until Christmas. Well done, Big Man! We’ve done this with tomatoes but never had enough grapes….yet.

    • chicaandaluza August 24, 2011 at 08:56 #

      I´m not so keen on the seeds, but becuase the raisins are big you can easily get them out. I don´t think this first batch will make it to next month, let alone Christmas!

  12. Tandy August 24, 2011 at 08:37 #

    wow, this looks so easy to do. In South Africa our raisins are sun dried as well. Maybe you can try and put some aside in Brandy to make your own Christmas cake 🙂

    • chicaandaluza August 24, 2011 at 08:55 #

      I hadn´t thought of it…but now you mention it, what a great idea!

  13. TheDorsetFinca August 24, 2011 at 09:48 #

    Been missing reading your posts. Our internet is down for 2 weeks, so I have popped round to my neighbours (to borrow theirs) to catch up on my blog reading. Love Big Man’s Raisins!!!

    • chicaandaluza August 24, 2011 at 16:09 #

      What a pain for you – hope it gets sorted soon!

  14. ambrosiana August 24, 2011 at 11:47 #

    I have never seen the process of making Uvas Pasas!! You are so lucky to have Big Man who did such a a marvelous job! These raisins look stunning, and I am already thinking of a delicious fruit cake you’ll be making for Christmas!!!

    • chicaandaluza August 24, 2011 at 16:08 #

      I know, can´t wait but I thnk we´ll need to make more are these won´t last until then I´m sure!

  15. foodblogandthedog August 24, 2011 at 13:53 #

    This is so funny, I have been taking pictures of grapes turning into raisins on the vines were we walk the dog. I don’t know whether they are doing it on purpose or if they are just too lasy to pick the grapes. Does Big Man know, would you dry grapes on the vine? I picked some vine leaves and blanched them yesterday, going to do stuffed vine leaves with raisins. That first pic is lovely!!

    • chicaandaluza August 24, 2011 at 16:07 #

      Have checked with “the expert” and he says that usually they are dried ont he vine. Some people cover their grapes in paper bags to stop the birds or wasps getting to them but we have so many sparrows in our garden (they eat a lot of our chilli plant flowers at the moment the little devils) that we cut the grapes to dry them. Never thought of blanching my vines leaves….now that´s a great idea!

  16. spicegirlfla August 24, 2011 at 16:24 #

    Now that’s a winning post header! Definitely caught my attention and with further reading, you really had my interest in learning about the variety of raisins… I had no idea. Thanks for sharing informative tips. And by the way, I’m overly jealous that you have a paella burner!!

    • chicaandaluza August 24, 2011 at 16:39 #

      Glad you enjoyed it. And the paella burner is a lot of fun – we can cook outside and it can take a HUGE pan (which is always a good think in my book)!

  17. Christina August 24, 2011 at 20:05 #

    Oh man these raisins look great! I love that you sun-dried your own…there would be no way that these would make it until Christmas at my house! 😀

    • chicaandaluza August 24, 2011 at 22:00 #

      To be honest, there aren´t that many left of the first batch!

  18. thecompletecookbook August 24, 2011 at 20:30 #

    Well done Big Man! Now, what are you going to be making with them?
    Have a happy day.
    🙂 Mandy

    • chicaandaluza August 24, 2011 at 22:01 #

      Well, first we have to make some more but I´m thinking pasas soaked in anis, Christmas cake, mincemeat, on their own with nibbles……oh dear, make that several batches!

      • chicaandaluza August 24, 2011 at 22:02 #

        Thank you – Big Man is feeling a little big headed today with all the compliments! Have just popped over to your blog and love those swordfih tacos!!

  19. sportsglutton August 24, 2011 at 20:54 #

    Very cool post and props to the Big Man!

  20. Olga SE August 25, 2011 at 07:16 #

    M-mmmm, homemade raisins… They look delicious.

    I’m also one of those who can’t grasp the difference between raisins, sultanas and currants. Oops, is it necessary for raisins to be seeded? I seem to be misinforming my daughter.

    • chicaandaluza August 25, 2011 at 09:30 #

      So it seems – I was surprised too as I thought it was all related to types of grape!

  21. Fired Up Cooking SA August 28, 2011 at 19:16 #

    When we toured the far northern area of SA, along the Orange River, we were amazed to see huge drying floors for sun drying grapes! We can’t grow grapes suuccessfully here – too hot & humid in my part of KZN. You and your hubby are so enterprising – I think you must be on your way to being self-sufficient 🙂

    • chicaandaluza August 28, 2011 at 19:37 #

      Too much humidity is not so good for grapes, and they even like a little cold snap once they´ve died back for the winter. We´re not quite self sufficient, but in the summer we´re almost, almost…. 🙂

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Solomillo De Cerdo con Uvas Pasas y Pedro Ximénez – Pork Fillet with Raisins and Sweet Wine « Chica Andaluza - January 3, 2012

    […] tablespoons of raisins soaked in half a cup of sweet wine (bring the wine and raisins up to a simmer and leave for an hour […]

  2. Sticky Citrus and Marmalade Tray Bake | Chica Andaluza - February 18, 2015

    […] 100g mixed dried fruits […]

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