Tip: How To Plump Up Your Raisins

In a recent post I made an offhand comment about plumping raisins, and someone asked about this. This is such a basic little technique that I take it for granted, but when I first learned it it made such a difference! Here's what I do to my raisins, and why I do it.

Pin it button big

Raisins are dried fruit, as we all know, and sometimes they can be very dry indeed. Most raisins are these tiny little shriveled lumps with hard ridges and a chewy texture. While raisins are almost invariably delicious, it can be pleasant to change that hard, chewy texture into something softer.

So whenever I use raisins in baked goods or salads (like this Swiss chard salad with raisins and walnuts) I plump up my raisins first.

This is very simple. Put your raisins in a small bowl, and cover with boiling water. Let them steep for 5-10 minutes (or however long you've got) and then drain them thoroughly. You will find that they are much plumper, juicier, and softer.

There are many variations on this. When I am making certain salads I will use hot orange juice instead of water, and heat the raisins together with the juice and a little honey in the microwave. Then I will put them in the fridge with the bowl covered by a plate. As they cool they soak up all the juices and become extremely sweet and juicy.

When I use raisins in baking I plump them up with a combination of hot water, butter, and rum or bourbon, which makes them sweetly boozy.

It's such a quick, easy little trick; just steep them while you're washing the salad or mixing the dough. But it's one of those little touches that can make a real difference in the final quality of the dish.

Do you ever plump up your raisins? How do you do it?

Related: In Praise of Raisins

(Image: Faith Durand)