I’ve gotten many interesting questions since launching my Ask Resourceful Mommy feature one month ago, but I thought this one was the most fun!
Dear Resourceful Mommy,
I know that raisins come from grapes, but I’ve always wanted to know – how exactly are raisins made?
To find the answer, I turned to those guys from my childhood – The California Raisins. Those dancing, singing, wrinkly guys from the past now have a wonderful website that includes parenting resources such as informational sheets and recipes. And yes, they even have the answer to one reader’s question.
Raisins are, of course, dried grapes, but more specifically they are dried Vinifera grapes, which have been stemmed and capstemmed. They are literally dried in the sun (really!) then loaded into bins, which are inspected one by one by a USDA inspector. The raisins then move through conveyor belts to be size sorted and washed in water. It takes two to four weeks for grapes to dry into raisins before they can begin their journey to our children’s lunchboxes.
Do you have a question for Resourceful Mommy? Ask away!
The original question to Ask Resourceful Mommy came from a mom of two named Laura. While she was happy with the above answer, her incredibly clever daughter, Rebecca, wanted to know more. She asked, “How do they keep the animals off of the grapes while they are becoming raisins?”
Well, Rebecca, the vineyards themselves are treated with chemicals prior to the raisin making process in order to protect them from insects. Sulfur dusting is also used to decrease the chance of mold growing on the grapes.
During the drying process the paper trays are rolled up to prevent moths from infesting the harvest, and the paper trays themselves contain insecticides that prevent insects from destroying the fruit.
But don’t worry, Rebecca! The companies who make raisins clean them thoroughly with water before packaging. And Rebecca’s mom, if this information has led you to pull all of the raisin’s out of your child’s trail mix, consider purchasing organic, pesticide free raisins.
Thanks, Rebecca and Laura!