Half of the world's supply of raisins are grown in California.
California discovered the commercial potential of raisins quite by accident. In 1873, a freak hot spell withered the grapes on the vine. One enterprising San Francisco grocer advertised these shriveled grapes as "Peruvian Delicacies" and the rest is history. California is now the world's leading producer of raisins.
It takes more than 4 tons of grapes to produce 1 ton of raisins.
The finest raisins come from Malaga in Spain.
Golden raisins are made by treating the raisins with a lye solution, sometimes with lye and then burning sulfur, and sometimes with sulfur dioxide.
Fresno, California is the Raisin Capital of the World.
Raisin - comes from the Latin racemus and means "a cluster of grapes or berries".
The California Dancing Raisin was introduced in 1984 by the California Raisin Industry marketing staff to increase awareness and demand for California raisins.
It is believed that humans discovered raisins when they happened upon grapes drying on a vine. History books note that raisins were sun-dried from grapes as long ago as 1490 B.C. But several hundred years passed before it was determined which grape variety would make the best raisin.
1490 B.C. - History books first note raisins were sun-dried grapes. Between 120 and 900 B.C. , the first vineyards were developed. Muscat raisins, which are oversized with seeds and full of flavor, were grown in southern Spain. Farmers of Greece grew tiny, seedless, tangy raisins called currants.
11th century - Crusader knights first introduced raisins to Europe when they returned home from the Mediterranean. Packaging and shipping techniques were good enough to ship raisins throughout northern Europe.
14th century - Raisins became an important part of European cuisine. Spaniards perfected viticulture, or grape growing. Roman physicians prescribed raisins to cure anything from mushroom poisoning to old age. Eventually, they became so valuable that two jars of raisins could be traded for one slave!
18th century - Spanish missionaries in Mexico moved into California and helped farmers grow grapes for wine.
1851 - A marketable muscat for raisins, the Egyptian Muscat, was grown near San Diego. Since the area didn't have sufficient water supply, farmers moved to the San Joaquin (wah keen) Valley which has a mild climate and extensive irrigation system perfect for the art of viticulture.
1873 - Legend says California's first raisin crop was grown by nature, not farmers. A massive heat wave hit the valley before harvest, and most of the grapes dried on the vine before farmers could pick them.
1876 - Scottish immigrant William Thompson grew a seedless grape variety that was thin-skinned, seedless, sweet and tasty. Today 95 percent of California raisins are made from Thompson seedless grapes.
Late 1800s - Armenians descended from the first founders of vineyards in Persia began settling in the San Joaquin Valley. The area now supplies raisins for nearly half the world, making it the largest producer anywhere.
From the California Raisin Marketing Board - www.calraisins.org