Breakfast

Butter-Fried Raisins Changed My Mind About Raisins Forever

When warmed in butter, raisins grow plump and their flavor goes from cloying and tannic to gently sweet.

November 20, 2019
Photo by Rocky Luten. Food Stylist: Yossy Arefi. Prop Stylist: Brooke Deonarine.

Have you ever had one of those lazy mornings where you just can’t bear to leave the couch, let alone go outside? For me, those mornings frequently happen as the weather turns chilly, when you need to toss on a sweater or a thicker pair of socks after getting out of bed. And when I’m feeling like a sloth on such mornings, torso encased in fleece, there’s nothing sadder than ambling over to a fridge that doesn't have enough inside to become breakfast.

Or does it?

A box of raisins left over from last month’s oatmeal cookie recipe, a cup or so of (sniff) still-fresh ricotta, a knob of butter left in the dish, half a loaf of good bread in the back—oh, wait, here we go. It may not seem like much, but these seemingly sad ingredients were what led to my new favorite breakfast. When they’re all dressed up on a plate, this meal looks way more luxe than you’d think.

So, the raisins. I’ll be honest, I’m not a big fan. Unless we’re talking ants on a log, which I will defend to the ends of the earth, I just don’t see why anyone would eat raisins when there are so many other dried fruits out there.

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“I also cook (golden) raisins in butter with lots of thinly sliced white or yellow onions, and top it on top of white rice.”
— Regine
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But then I started frying raisins in butter, and everything changed.

When warmed in a little butter and olive oil, raisins grow plump and their flavor becomes gently sweet. No longer tough and chewy, the raisins become a whole new condiment, something like a conserve (but with far less work). Just imagine those warm pieces of fruit over creamy ricotta and crunchy toast, popping in your mouth, butter dripping down your chin...

After a few tries with classic brownish raisins, I opened the casting call: sultanas, currants, maybe some other dried fruit in there for good measure. Sultanas, also known as golden raisins, are made with the same white-fleshed Thompson Seedless grapes as classic raisins. But instead of drying for weeks in the sun, golden raisins are dried in dehydrators and treated with sulfur dioxide to preserve their color. Currants are also a type of raisin, sometimes. True currants are just that: the fruit known as “currant”; whereas packages labeled “Zante currants” are in fact teeny grapes. They’re more commonly sold as dried fruit in grocery stores.

Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from using any dried fruit you have on hand: dried cranberries, blueberries, and cherries all work beautifully here. Dates, prunes, and apricots work, too, though you’ll want to give them a rough chop first as they’re a big larger.

You’ll never look at half a box of raisins with disdain again.

Raisins: yay or nay? Let us know in the comments below.
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Rebecca Firkser is a New York City-based food writer and cook. Her byline has appeared in number of publications, among them Food52, TASTE, Extra Crispy, Healthyish by Bon Appetit, and Tasting Table.

2 Comments

Regine November 20, 2019
I also cook (golden) raisins in butter with lots of thinly sliced white or yellow onions, and top it on top of white rice.
 
Girlfromipanema November 21, 2019
Woah, that sounds amazing.