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There are thousands of recipes out there on the net using raisins, but no page could be located on the differences between the sun-dried and golden varieties. Should you happen to come across information, please do not hesitate to e-mail a short note.

For more information on this subject, check out Why Do Clocks Run Clockwise? and Other Imponderables by David Feldman (1988, Harper and Row, Publishers).

What's the difference between the Sun-dried and Golden varieties?

We all know what they are. 

Dried out grapes. 

No big secret here. 

But what is the difference between the Golden and Sun-Dried varieties? 

I know what you're thinking - color. 

Well, that's pretty obvious - the golden ones are, well, golden. The sun-dried types are typically dark brown to black. 

I'm talking about what makes them different. 

It turns out that both types of raisins are usually made from the same exact grapes - Thompson Seedless - the same seedless ones that you buy in the supermarket. 

The real difference is in the processing. 

But first, a little background: Grapes have been used for human consumption for many centuries, long before the birth of Christ. 

They were of particular value in the Middle East. After all, the desert is a hot place. Grapes dry out and give a nice tasty raisin. The raisins would keep indefinitely without spoiling, making them a choice food among the wanderers of the day. 

Of course these grapes, and therefore the raisins, had seeds in them. The seedless type weren't a part of nature in those days. 

No matter what type of raisin you consume, they start out with about 78% water content. After drying, the water content is reduced to around 15%. Go too far and you have a hard rock! 

As a result, it takes between four and five pounds of grapes to make one pound of raisins. 

Now to answer the question: What is the difference between the Golden and Sun Dried raisins? 

Not much. 

The Sun Dried are seedless grapes that are placed on paper trays and allowed to - you guessed it - dry in the sun! This process takes 2-3 weeks and produces the dark raisins that we are all familiar with. 

To make the Golden variety, they bathe the grapes in warm water and place them in wood trays. Warm air is then blown through the grapes to dry them quickly. This process is called the "Spa Treatment" and takes about 24 hours. 

Unfortunately, the Spa Treatment can also produce dark raisins, so a bit of modern technology is used. 

The raisins are treated with sulfur dioxide prior to drying to preserve the golden color. 

So you have a choice - tasty golden raisins that have been chemically treated or the less tasty sun dried ones that have avoided man's magic potions. 

It's a tough decision, but most of us go for the Sun Dried varieties (the cheaper ones!). 

Useless?  Useful?  I’ll leave that for you to decide.

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