If we were to think of a food which is nature’s storehouse of energy, nutrients, anti-oxidants and which is easy to store and super convenient to carry - what could we think of? Raisins of course!
Raisins or the humble ‘Kishmish’ as it is also called in our country, needs no introduction. It has always found its way into our food either as a raw topping or as a dry snack. It is also one of the most easily available items at grocery stores.
Let us know more about raisins.
WHAT ARE RAISINS
Several suitable varieties of grapes are sun-dried till they attain their distinct small and wrinkled texture. The flavour of a raisin is similar to the grapes from which it was made. This is also a great way of enjoying grapes when they are not in season.
Raisins or kishmish is literally a ‘dried fruit’. On drying a fruit, many nutrients become concentrated in it. For eg. An ounce of raisins contains 6% potassium and 0.5 mg iron, as against 5% and 0.3 mg for the same amount of grapes.
Because of the lower moisture in raisins, it stays wholesome with a long shelf life, running into months.
Raisins or kishmish, are largely grown in three variants; all of them being similar in nature and nutrients to each other.
The dark brown/ black raisins are also referred to as ‘Munakka’, are usually sun-dried to get their colour.
The yellow/ golden coloured raisins, are smaller in size and usually have tiny seeds or are seedless. These are dehydrated for shorter periods than their darker counterparts.
The green raisins are usually shade dried and hence it’s the lighter colour.
We can enjoy all or any variety of kishmish; depending on whatever is locally and easily available.
A WHOLESOME FOOD
Raisin is a wholesome food that contains elements such as natural sugars, folic and pantothenic acid, minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, soluble and insoluble fibre, iron, copper and zinc. It is also packed with anti-oxidants which strengthen the immunity.
It is one of the most alkaline foods available and helps maintain the acid-alkaline balance in the body. Our body functions best when the pH of its blood is slightly alkaline, around 7.36 to 7.42.
The natural sweetness of raisins is so satiable that it can be aptly called as ‘nature’s candy’ and can often replace the market bought candies & lollies for kids, easily!
It’s naturally sweet taste is relished by children and makes a great snack for kids. Besides they are easily liked by even fussy eaters or ones who usually don’t prefer sweet foods.
Being alkaline food, raisins are a great way to boost up kids immunity. Making your kids have a few soaked raisins every morning when they wake up is a great start to their day.
For the same reason, patients recovering from illness should also include raisins in their food routine. Additionally, being high in natural sugars, they give a quick boost of energy that is needed during illness and to recuperate from it.
Raisins could make great natural energy bars!! It’s a good idea to have a handful of raisins to charge up after performing strenuous activities like workouts, exercise or play.
Raisins being rich in minerals like iron, magnesium, calcium, and vitamins, can greatly benefit women in pregnancy and postnatal care. Having a few raisins daily will help in supplementing the essential nutrients required by the mother and the baby.
Being a good source of iron, it is very beneficial in anaemia.
Raisins are fibre rich and hence they help in clearing the bowels. For regular bowel movement or in case of constipation, one should include/increase the intake of fibre rich foods. Having a few soaked raisins every morning can relieve constipation.
The fibre in raisins helps keep stomach filled for longer. So the next time you have an urge to snack, skip the processed snacks and reach for healthy snacking items such as raisins. The ease of storing and carrying this versatile dry-fruit leaves no reason to miss it! So keep them readily available at workstations, study table or simply snuck them in the bags!
Do remember that when it comes to food, the key lies in moderation. Nature has given us a lot of variety in foods, so try to include a variety of whole, local, seasonal, fresh, raw foods in your diet. You can definitely enjoy a handful of raisins every day but don’t overindulge.
Even though we can always munch raisins just as they are – dry and raw, it is great to consume them soaked too, whenever possible. Soaking increases the amount of nutrients that are absorbed by the body. Soaking raisins at night and eating them in the morning on an empty stomach is a great way to enjoy their health benefits.
TIPS TO TAKE CARE
Raisins, like other fruits and dry-fruits, should be had alone and not mixed with other food groups like vegetables, grains, pulses, nuts and seeds, etc. The common practice of adding raisins to dairy-based desserts or savoury items should be preferably avoided.
Ensure that the raisins are naturally dried for great quality and natural goodness. These days many raisins produces are being commercially oven dried or even machine dried.
Check for raisins containing Sulphites (Sulphur dioxide); especially the golden coloured raisins; which is commonly used to preserve dried fruits. People with asthma or sulphite sensitivity should particularly avoid this.
While buying raisins, we should keep in mind that naturally readied raisins are not very shiny and smooth; instead, they are slightly rugged and firm; and hence select accordingly. Smooth and shiny looking raisins are often coated with oil for longer shelf life. Check the label to make sure the raisins are natural without additives.
The naturally produced raisins may not last as long as the ones with preservatives. So we could choose to buy them in small batches.
In case naturally produced raisins are bought in a large quantity and need to be stored longer, they can be refrigerated in moderate temperature and be consumed.
Make your own raisins!
Save money and be assured of the quality when you make your own raisins at home. It requires very minimal effort.
Buy grapes when they are in season
Wash them and wipe them clean with a cotton napkin
Spread them out on a plate, cover with a muslin cloth (to keep out ants and flies) and keep in the sunlight.
Ensure temperature is above 24 or 25 degrees Celsius.
If it's cooler or foggy at dawn or dusk, bring them into the house every evening and place it back every morning
The grapes will start shrivelling and turn darker.
It may take 5 days to a week from them to be completely dehydrated depending on the temperature.
Pack them in airtight sealed bags and keep in the fridge.
Note: Since they do not have preservatives, they may not last longer than 5 months or so.
These raisins will be darker and chewier than store bought ones since they are natural without any sulphite preservatives.
Size, shape and colour do not matter when it comes to this wellness packed dried fruit. It is so easy to pack and take these little ones along anytime and to any place, that it is always possible to keep raising the health with ‘raisins’.
Title Image credit: Author Tafilah Yusof/ feelphotoz via pixabay.com
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