Giving Thanks to the Wrinkly Fruit

“He who sees age on the outside of things is doomed to underestimate the vitality of raisins.”
~Philip K. Jason

No doubt about it, raisins are wrinkly.  

Some would even argue that raisins are ugly.

But this is ugliness (and wrinkles!) we should all learn to love.

Because the raisin, which bursts with nutrition, is a gift of nature.

Since April 30th is National Raisin Day, this is the perfect time to honor the ‘wrinkly fruit.’

What Is National Raisin Day?

raisinsThe noble tradition of National Raisin Day began back in 1909.

The holiday was the brainchild of California’s raisin growers who wanted to shine a light on their favorite crop.

They placed ads in newspapers and on the radio and blanketed stores and parking lots with flyers to announce the holiday. They even disseminated information to schools and government organizations that extolled the virtues of the California raisin in preparation for the big day.

In honor of the celebration, individuals and restaurants alike prepared their favorite raisin dishes.

The first National Raisin Day was such a huge success that it has been commemorated every year since.

What Is the History of the Raisin?

raisinsOften referred to as ‘nature’s candy,’ raisins are dried grapes.

The word ‘raisin’ comes from the Latin word, ‘racemus,’ meaning a bundle of grapes or berries.

This small fruit was first discovered when it was found dried on vines as early as 2,000 B.C. From then on, the dried fruit was consumed and even used as a decoration throughout the Mediterranean regions of Europe.

Fast-forward to the 18th century, and the birth of the California Raisin.

During the Spanish colonialism, Queen Isabella of Spain told missionaries to teach the natives of Mexico about both religion and viticulture. By the 18th century, these missionaries had moved much farther north into California.

The missionaries themselves eventually left California but the vineyards they had helped establish remained. The California raisin was discovered by accident in 1873 when the Central Valley was hit by a heat wave, which caused the grapes to dry on the vine.

Why Raisins Are so Good for Us

raisins

Raisins might be small, but they are big in nutritional content.

The ‘wrinkly fruit’ is rich in dietary fiber, low in sodium, and packed with antioxidants.

Raisins may promote a healthy digestive system and are a source of potassium, magnesium, copper, zinc, and B vitamins.

The tiny fruit also contains the mineral boron, which has been shown to support bone health as well as help the body process both estrogen and vitamin D.

Fun Facts About Raisins

Dr. Rosane Oliveira and Apple Raisin BreadHere are some fun facts about raisins:

  • Raisins come in all the colors of the rainbow: black, blue, green, purple, or yellow, depending on what type of grape has been used.
  • California produces 50 percent of the world’s supply of raisins.
  • Fresno, California is known as the Raisin Capital of the World.
  • To produce 1 ton of raisins you need more than 4 tons of grapes.
  • The raisins that come from Malaga, Spain are considered the finest.

To celebrate National Raisin Day, whip up a loaf of Apple Raisin Bread, a great way to enjoy raisins the 100 percent plant-based way.

Happy National Raisin Day to all!