Sunday, 8 December 2013
Raisins and Sulfites
Commercially grown dried raisins may be treated with sulfur dioxide gas during processing. They may also be treated with sulfites to extend their shelf life.
Sulfur-containing compounds are often added to dried foods like raisins as preservatives to help prevent oxidation and bleaching of colors. The sulfites used to help preserve dried raisins cause adverse reactions in an estimated one out of every 100 people, who turn out to be sulfite sensitive.
Sulfite reactions can be particularly acute in people who suffer from asthma. The Federal Food and Drug Administration estimates that 5 percent of asthmatics may suffer a reaction when exposed to sulfites.
Foods that are classified as "organic" do not contain sulfites since federal regulations prohibit the use of these preservatives in organically grown or produced foods. Therefore, concern about sulfite exposure is yet another reason to purchase organic foods.
Raisins and Pesticide Residues
Virtually all municipal drinking water in the United States contains pesticide residues, and with the exception of organic foods, so do the majority of foods in the U.S. food supply. Even though pesticides are present in food at very small trace levels, their negative impact on health is well documented. The liver's ability to process other toxins, the cells' ability to produce energy, and the nerves' ability to send messages can all be compromised by pesticide exposure. According to the Environmental Working Group's 2009 report "Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce," grapes imported into the U.S. (not domestically grown grapes) are among the 12 foods on which pesticide residues have been most frequently found. Therefore, individuals wanting to avoid pesticide-associated health risks may want to avoid consumption of imported grapes or raisins unless they are grown organically. While imported grapes were among the top 12 foods found to have pesticide residues, grapes grown in the U.S. were found to be number 21 among the 47 foods tested.
How to Enjoy
A Few Quick Serving Ideas
- Raisins are a great addition to homemade granola or can be sprinkled over any breakfast cereal, hot or cold.
- Soak raisins and other dried fruits in water to soften for an easy-to-make compote that is so versatile it can be served a variety of ways. Some of our favorites include served on top of chicken or layered with plain yogurt to make a dessert parfait.
- Raisins go well in most baked goods. Add them to bread, muffins and cookies.
- Add raisins, almonds, peppers and onions to brown rice to make a tasty side dish.
- Raisins' sweetness and texture make them a great addition to poultry stuffing.
- Mix raisins with your favorite nuts for a high-energy, protein and fiber-packed homemade snack or trail mix.
Tips for Preparing and Cooking
Tips for Preparing Raisins
Raisins that are fresh and have been stored properly will require no special attention prior to eating or using in a recipe. To restore dried out raisins before adding them to a recipe, place them in a bowl covered with a little hot water for a few minutes. You can use the nutrient-infused liquid in the recipe.
How to Select and Store
If possible, purchase raisins that are sold in bulk or in transparent containers so that you can judge their quality, checking to see that they are moist and undamaged. When buying raisins in a sealed, opaque container, make sure that the container is tightly sealed and that they are produced or packaged by a reputable company.
Storing raisins in the refrigerator in an airtight container will extend their freshness and prevent them from becoming dried out. If you purchase raisins in single serving boxes and do not want to transfer them to another container, store the boxes in the refrigerator to extend their shelf life. Raisins will be the most fresh if consumed within six months.