Raisins make for delicious additions in many desserts but did you know that you can rehydrate them and bring them back to life?
Soaked raisins have a soft texture and a very sweet and balanced flavor. They can be used in several ways but are perhaps best used in different types of cakes!
But how do you soak raisins? Raisins are typically soaked overnight or for a minimum of 12 hours in water and can also be rehydrated using many other types of liquids. Once hydrated, they become plump and can be used in multiple ways.
Read below to learn more about soaking raisins, how to make them at home, and the best uses for hydrated raisins!
Soaked Vs. Dried Raisins – The Ultimate Guide
Raisins are essentially dried grapes. You can even say that every grape can be a raisin and vice versa!
The reason why raisins are so popular is that they are convenient, nutritious and can be used in desserts and savory recipes too.
Raisins have been consumed since prehistoric times and were popularized in Egypt. Many scientists believe that raisins were more of a discovery than a man-made invention.
As ripe grapes fell from trees, they dried naturally in the sun and were extensively used by humans as food across history.
There are many types of raisins; if you have access to different types of grapes, you can make raisins out of any species too! All you would need is a dehydrator or a method of removing excess moisture from them and lots of patience.
Raisins can last a long time due to the lack of water in them. They have a typical shelf life of about 6-12 months with some varieties lasting even longer if stored properly.
Soaking dried fruit is an age-old method of revitalizing food and bringing back some of the lost texture. There are many methods to rehydrate fruit but most commonly, water is used as a base to plump raisins.
Please note that rehydrated raisins have a similar nutritional profile to dried raisins – unless they are soaked in an enriched liquid. (More on this below.)
These soaked raisins are commonly used in cakes, custards, puddings, and more. They are also commonly used in spicy and savory dishes too.
For example, plump raisins can be paired with aromatic and spicy rice, meat, vegetables, and they can also be used in making soups and more!
How To Make Raisins
Dried fruit, like raisins, form when there is a significant loss of moisture within them. Grapes are commonly known to be water-laden fruits that have a soft texture and plump structure.
To understand how raisins are rehydrated, we must look at the process of dehydration first!
The following methods are ideal for dehydrating grapes to make raisins at home:
- Sun Drying Method
- Air Drying Method
- Heat Drying
- Dehydrator Method
Sun Drying Method
This method is most commonly used around the world, especially Asia. Sun drying is a natural way of dehydrating food for preservation and textural changes.
There are many types of fruits, vegetables, and herbs that are commonly sun-dried.
Grapes are a popular choice as home-dried raisins are much better than the packaged ones due to their freshness and how much control you have over the entire process.
Here is how to sun dry grapes:
- Clean the grapes under the sink with clear water and then dry them properly using a paper towel. Make sure that there is no excess moisture on the skin before you put them out to dry.
- Shift the grapes to a wire rack and set them on your balcony or near a window with direct sunlight. You will need to allow the grapes to naturally dehydrate for about 96 hours. So, make sure that the grapes are free from insects or animals during the 3-day dehydration period.
- This duration also depends on ambient weather conditions. You may need to leave the grapes out for longer if you live in a humid climate with cloudy skies.
- Put the dehydrated grapes in a strainer and shake well to remove any excess dirt or dust on them.
- Shift the grapes in an airtight container and eat within 3 months.
Air Drying Method
This method is more commonly used in humid climates or when you don’t have access to a window or if you fear that pets or animals may interfere with the dehydration process.
The air-drying method takes longer than the sun drying method but is still an excellent way to convert grapes into raisins.
This method uses dry air to naturally dehydrate the grapes to create raisins.
Here’s how you can do it:
- Wash the grapes and dry them using a paper towel.
- Shift the grapes to a tray.
- Place the tray in a cool and dry place. You need to keep the grapes away from excess moisture or temperature differences. Store them like this for about 1-2 weeks.
- Keep a close watch on the grapes and make sure they are away from flies or insects.
- Filter the raisins using a sift to remove excess dust and store them in an airtight container (or in the fridge) for up to 2-3 months.
Also known as the oven drying method; this is the best way to quickly dehydrate any type of fruit, especially grapes within 6 hours.
This is by far the quickest method of making raisins at home but these raisins may still be half-plump and may require further 24 hours at room temperature to become completely dehydrated.
For this method:
- Preheat the oven to 225°F and in a baking tray, lightly spray just a bit of grease and layout all the grapes evenly.
- Allow the grapes to heat over four hours or until they start to shrivel up.
- Remove the raisins after 4-5 hours and check for doneness. They would either be fully dehydrated or half-plump.
- Sort and separate the raisins from the half-plump grapes. You can further dehydrate the grapes using any of the mentioned methods for no more than 24 hours.
- Store the raisins in the fridge and consume them within 3 months.
Dehydrators once used to be large industrial machines, but nowadays, you can easily buy a cheap and compact dehydrator for home projects.
The dehydrator will produce the best quality raisins because it will evenly dry all the grapes without you having to worry about external environmental factors.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Clean and dry the grapes.
- Set the grapes in the dehydrator. Make sure that each grape is individually placed and not stacked.
- Close the lid, turn on the dehydrator and let it run for at least 8-9 hours or until the grapes have turned into raisins.
As mentioned, rehydrating raisins is just a matter of leaving them in liquid or until they become plump again.
There are a few things to keep in mind, though.
First of all, the raisins will never truly regain their color or even fresh flavor. Sure, they will become plump and will not even look anything like typical raisins but they will essentially be bloated dried fruit.
Since the fruit will soak up excess water, there are a few interesting ways that you can use them!
Here are a few great ways to rehydrate dried raisins at home:
- Fruit Juice Rehydration
- Water Rehydration
- Alcohol Rehydration
- Egg Mixture Rehydration
Fruit Juice Rehydration
A fun way to rehydrate raisins is to use fruit juice. Remember, as the raisins soak, they will absorb ambient moisture until they become plump.
Because of this, you can use either grape juice or even better, pineapple juice to rehydrate the raisins! The fruit juice will add an excellent flavor and texture to the raisins and they will become extremely juicy.
They will take on both the flavor of the juice and will provide a balanced grape flavor too! These types of soaked raisins can be used as a garnish on custards, cakes, pudding, and more.
You can also mix them in smoothies or add them as a finishing touch on beverages. Trust us, if you are after flavor and texture then this is by far the best way to rehydrate dried raisins.
Here’s how to rehydrate them:
- Clean the raisins under clean water to remove excess dust from them. Although you shouldn’t worry about drying them, since they will be added directly to the fruit mixture, it would be a good idea to pat dry them for hygiene purposes.
- In a deep bowl, pour in 3-4 cups of fruit juice of your choice. We recommend going with pineapple juice or grape juice for the most flavor. You will need about 2-3 cups of juice for every 1 cup of dried raisins.
- Allow the raisins to rehydrate for at least 24 hours in the fridge. You can also put them in a zip-lock bag for more convenience.
- Once sufficiently plump, strain the juice or use them with it in any recipe.
This method may seem boring and may have the least impact on flavor but it is the best way to rehydrate them without affecting their neutral flavor.
The water rehydration method will also allow you to use the plump raisins in different recipes without adding additional and unwanted flavors.
The water rehydration method is largely seen as being more convenient, as you can leave the raisins soaked over the counter for 24 hours without worrying about the liquid going bad, like in the case of open fruit juice which requires constant refrigeration.
To jump-start the process, you can also add warm (not boiling) water to a zip lock back and add the raisins. This will cut down the process by a few hours and will ensure that the raisins are thoroughly plump.
Here are all the steps:
- Clean the raisins under clear water and then in a large bowl with at least 3 cups of water, add 1 cup of any type of raisin.
- Move the container to the fridge or add everything to a zip lock bag and let the raisins rehydrate overnight. You can also leave the raisins out on the kitchen counter.
- Once fully plump, remove the excess liquid and consume the raisins within the week for the best results.
Spirits are a great way to add flavor and nuances to dried raisins. The end product can be used in either fruit drinks or other delicious beverages.
The raisins will take on an interesting flavor and will become sufficiently plump in the alcohol mixture just like any other liquid!
Here is how to do it:
- Place the raisins in a deep bowl and add at least 2-3 cups of brandy or rum.
- Soak the raisins overnight.
- Once the raisins have a gelatinous exterior and have become plump, remove them from the liquid or mix everything in different beverages and enjoy!
Egg Mixture Rehydration
You would be surprised to know that soaking raisins in an egg mixture is one of the best ways to get the most out of them when baking! Why?
Well, if you plan on using raisins in baking products, then we highly recommend that you start by soaking them in cracked eggs.
Think about it; everything will mix with the dry ingredients anyway then why not use this opportunity to rehydrate the raisins in the egg and sugar mixture?
This is an important step because using straight-up dried raisins may cause some problems with your baked goods. For example, as the cake bakes, the dried raisins may soak up the moisture from the cake and make it crumbly or dry!
While you can use any type of soaked raisins (using the methods described above), the egg and sugar mixture will prove to be the best for baking purposes as it won’t introduce more moisture than is required.
Here is how to do it:
- Clean the raisins by washing them under clear water.
- Pat them dry.
- In a bowl, crack and add the required eggs and sugar. Mix accordingly and then add the raisins.
- Refrigerate the mixture overnight and give it a good mix to aerate it again before adding it to the other ingredients.
Now that you know how to soak raisins and how to convert grapes into raisins at home, here are a few related questions!
Will raisins continue soaking liquid if you leave them in for longer?
No. The raisins will only take up as much liquid as they can hold. This is a common misbelief; leaving the raisins for longer will not affect their texture.
Sure, you can leave them in the liquid overnight, but they will not continue soaking up moisture beyond their saturation point or capacity.
Can you dehydrate soaked raisins again?
Yes, while you can repeat the process of dehydration using soaked raisins, you will lose a lot of flavor and the raisins may become overly hard once they dehydrate.
It is just better to use them immediately after they have been soaked.
How long can you store soaked raisins?
Soaked raisins can be stored in the fridge for 2-3 days. It is better to consume them the same day as you soak them so you get the most out of their texture and flavor.
Freezing soaked raisins is not recommended, as it may destroy their delicate texture and affect their flavor too.