What is the difference between raisins and sultanas? Are there other types of raisins? What is the deal with currants? We have plenty of answers for you, right now!
I love to eat raisins, but my younger sister like to pick them out of the cakes that my mother sometimes made. I always laughed at her – they’re just dried up grapes, I used to say. But she just wouldn’t hear of them. Now, I guess I like to still mock her sometimes for this weirdness, but it’s a thing for us, not a type of shaming. I will probably send her a link to this article about types of raisins whenever we hit the ‘publish’ button.
I am still into raisins. Sometimes I have them as a snack, use them as an ingredient for trail mix or include them in granola. They’re not bad at all, quite the opposite: they have plenty of nutritious elements. Not only do they have fiber, they’re also rich in potassium, iron, vitamin B6, magnesium, calcium, and vitamin C.
But is there a difference between raisins and sultanas? Let’s find out! But first, what do they have in common among themselves and also currants? Well, they’re all small and sweet dried fruits that are used in similar ways.
Differences between types of raisins
Like I said, raisins are dried white-fleshed grapes. The grapes start off with a green skin that tends to get darker as they dry. They contain small seeds and have quite the sweet flavor. You can use them in baking, with puff pastry sweet items, and also granola bars, as topping for oatmeal, waffles, pancakes. They’re awesome because they absorb liquid easily.
You might also know them as golden raisins. They come from dried golden grapes that are seedless. They don’t darken when you dry them, so that would be the main difference with raisins. Also, sultanas tend to be smaller in size and a bit sweeter. So, use them in your baking if you need an extra sweet touch or want to eliminate some sugar from the recipe. They also absorb liquid, so there is no tragedy in straight up replacing raisins with sultanas and vice versa.
They might seem quite similar to raisins, but you can pick currants from bushes, while you pick the grapes off the vine. Currants bring more of a tart touch to your dishes, so use them accordingly, because they’re not very sweet. Otherwise, they can be quite similar in texture so you can replace raisins or sultanas with currants if you’re in a pinch.
These have been also called ‘true currants’ (the black and red varieties) and you’ll see why below.
What are Zante currants, anyway? Well, they’re not currants, weirdly, since they don’t grow in bushes. They are very small dried grapes that are about a quarter of the size of regular grapes. If currants are what you’re looking for, look for stuff labeled as ‘blackcurrants’. Yeah, it’s a bit confusing. You can use the Zante currants as you would raisins, basically.
So why the confusion? Why are these called currants? It was a mislabeling error at the turn if last century (1911, to be precise). The tiny raisins were exported from Greece and had the name ‘Corinth’ on the label. This was mistakenly translated to ‘currant’ and the name stuck. There you go, another mystery elucidated. Enjoy your raisin-filled dishes!