Difference between: sun dried raisins and golden raisins

Sun dried raisins versus golden raisins – Can you swap one another out in recipes? Is one better than the other with baking?

We’ll check it out.

a sprinkling of golden and darker raisins against a white background

Raisins are of course dried grapes. Grapes have been utilized as raisins for centuries, because raisins can keep forever without spoiling.

In 1876, William Thompson developed a type of sweet, seedless grapes that happened to dry very well.

Fun facts:

  • Thompson seedless grapes account for 95% of California raisins.
  • California raisins account for 50% of global production.
  • It takes four to five pounds of grapes to make one pound of raisins.
  • Grapes are about 78% water; raisins are 15%.

Sun dried raisins:

  • Are air-dried in the sun.
  • Take two to three weeks to produce raisins.
  • Are dark colored.

Golden raisins:

  • Are soaked in warm water;
  • Then, warm air is blown through the grapes to dry them quickly.
  • Take about 24 hours to produce raisins.
  • Are treated with sulfur dioxide to retain golden color.
  • Are more moist and plump than sun dried.

Although you can substitute sun dried raisins for golden and vice versa, because they are moister and plumper golden raisins are preferred for baking purposes.

Also, well known raisin company Sun-Maid says this about chemically treating golden raisins:

“Most light colored dried fruits have been treated with sulfur to maintain the light color. Sulfur dioxide has historically been used in preparation of dried fruits including dried apples, dried apricots, dried pears, and golden raisins to prevent the darkening of fruits during drying. Without the use of sulfites, the fruit darkens and changes flavor as it dries. Sulfur dioxide halts these reactions which would otherwise occur spontaneously as the fruit dries.”

In conclusion, sun dried raisins are sun dried and dark colored. Golden raisins are lighter in color, made possible by the sulfur treatment, and are fuller and juicier from being soaked in water.

Find the difference between raisins and currants here.

2 thoughts on “Difference between: sun dried raisins and golden raisins

  1. So, grapes are on the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list. It stands to reason that any additional additives to food make them less healthy, therefore organic sun-dried grapes are probably healthier than golden raisins, right? Golden raisins have always seemed so much fancier to me– funny to learn they are more processed!
    Here’s the EWG link to the Dirty Dozen list: http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php

    1. Yes, organic sun dried raisins are almost definitely healthier than golden. Although the sulfur treatment does appear to be fairly common and probably not terribly harmful, I can’t imagine it could be healthier than raisins that don’t receive a chemical treatment.

      And yeah, I think of grapes as basically tree fruits, which statistically have the highest pesticide residue of all produce. I believe apples are the worst – I see that study you linked says 99% tested positive for at least one pesticide. (This is why I’m willing to pay a fortunate for organic Honeycrisp apples. =P)

      On a related note, I’ve noticed wine made with organic grapes never gives me a headache.

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