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Information about Sultanas plus Sultana Recipes Collection


Sultanas Information and Recipes


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Often referred to as Sultana, Golden or White Raisins, the sultana differs from the raisin in two ways. Firstly and most apparent, it is much lighter in colour, although the colour ranges from very light to brown, but more importantly, it undergoes a different drying process, more about which you can read below.




Origin and History of Sultanas


The process of drying fruit in the sun is accredited to the Persians with early written references to drying black grapes for raisins dating back to over 2,000 years ago. It is believed that the Sultana Grape originated in Anatolia in Turkey, was taken to Greece and from there, sent all over the world. 


In 1872, British born William Thompson who emigrated to the US,  introduced seedless grape cuttings to California. Today, Thompson Seedless is the most widely used grape variety for making sultanas. 




Cultivation and Processing Sultanas



Grapes for the production of dried fruit are restricted to regions with a long, hot growing season in order for the grapes to remain on the vine until fully matured in order to achieve the high sugar content needed for satisfactory drying.  The Sultana grape contains 18-20 per cent fruit sugar which ensures the fruit remains plump and succulent after the evaporation of its water content. Also, because of their high sugar content, they don't need preservatives to keep them fresh.


Traditionally grown  in the Mediterranean area and some middle eastern countries, Australia, South Africa and California are now also major producers. 


The grapes are harvested when overripe. They are then dried. Drying methods today vary. Traditionally, fruit were sun-dried however, nowadays they are often mechanically dehydrated. In general, the darker fruit are sun-dried for several weeks, producing a darker colour and more  shrivelled appearance, whereas the lighter fruit are treated with sulphur dioxide just to keep their golden colour and artificially dried to avoid the darkening effect of the sunlight. This process also extends their storage life and prevent subsequent discolouring.



Sultanas in Cooking



Being seedless, succulent and sweet - almost honey-like- Sultanas are a natural choice for cakes, biscuits and desserts, but the warm rounded flavour goes remarkably well with savoury ingredients such as meat, fish and poultry. Sultanas (as well as many other dried fruit) are a popular ingredient in meat dishes, particularly in the middle east.


When using, try soaking them for 20 minutes or more in warm liquid such as wine, port, rum or stock (depending on the recipe)  for a softer fruit with added flavour.


Below are lots sweet and savoury recipes using Sultanas but there are many more on the site. Use the search form to find them all.


 Happy Cooking!





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