Thursday, January 26, 2017

How to make raisin from grapes ?

Homemade raisins and dry fruits are made possible by using an equipment called dehydrator. Dehydrators come handy when sun-drying process becomes almost impossible in some places. Also this method is more hygienic (no dust) and convenient too. In India, sundried foods are prepared during summer and it is like a family event in many homes :) Still I remember how I used to enjoy making vadagams (papad), vatral etc along with my amma and her friends. I will make a separate post for that soon. Sundried papads made in open terraces in India are really hygienic (as people handle it with utmost care), environment friendly and lot of fun to prepare too.  But many of us in the cold countries have to trust a dehydrator to preserve the homegrown vegetables, herbs and fruits. The power consumption of dehydrators should not discourage anyone from using it. Because the absence of chemicals in manufacturing process justifies that cost and also the power cost is negligible. Here is an interesting page on cost of dehydrated food.
Though I was amazed at the possibilities of using a dehydrator at home, I never thought of buying one, till I saw it on sale in ALDI last year. I got this for less than $ 14 and I am delighted with that purchase, because I have used this many times to make delicious raisins, vadagams and dried vegetables (vatral) .

The dehydrator from ALDI and the raisin I made in that.
Homemade cloth base for dehydrator plates
Raisins made in dehydrator

store it in airtight container at room temperature.

Kesari made using homemade raisin

Seedless grapes - 1 kg

The dehydrator is an equipment (see photo), that would have a heating coil at the base and some plates with holes stacked above it. The center hole and the holes in the plate facilitates the hot air circulation.
I covered the plates using a new thin cotton cloth and cut out the center holes for aeration. But that is not necessary, if the grapes are larger.
First rinse the grapes thoroughly (thrice or more times). Remove the stems.
Pat dry using a clean cloth.
Place on all the plates of the dehydrator (evenly spaced).
Arrange the plates over the coil.
Switch on at maximum heat.
It may take nearly 2 to 3 days for drying the grapes to a hard stage.
I always run the dehydrator when I am at home and switch it off while sleeping. But many people run it continuously and it gets dried in 24 hours for them.
Finally place all the dried raisins in a single plate and continue drying for 6 more hours if needed.
Dry it till it turns more harder than store bought to ensure longevity (as we are not adding any chemicals to preserve them).

Before we use it any recipe (raw) we can soak a handful of raisin in few tsp of water and puff them in microwave. It will get the same softness like store bought.
I use this in many desserts, oats and fruit cake.
Making raisins is a good way to turn sour grapes to sweeter ones.
Buy the organic grapes (optional) during season at a lesser price and enjoy perfect raisins throughout the year.
yields : 2 cups raisins

Vazhaikkai Poriyal (Plantain stir fry)

This vazhaikai poriyal was a staple in our house as we had some (lot) of banana trees in our backyard. I have seen amma running there to pic...