A few weeks ago I headed to the left coast to visit loverly Fresno. I was greeted at the airport by a celebrity. I’m sure you’ve heard of him. He’s pretty famous. THE California Raisin! As I was walking up I could hear I heard it through the grapevine playing in my head. I have to admit I was a little star struck. He was definitely my most favorite airport greeting. Hands down. I bet you’re wondering why I was in Fresno and why the CA Raisin was greeting me? Because I’m a rock star of course (okay maybe only in my head) Really, I am one of several CA Raising Blogger Ambassadors and I’m tickled purple about it.
I happen to lurve raisins. They’re the ultimate portable snack and I couldn’t wait to learn more about them. Did you know that California raisins are an all natural, dried by the sun, nutrient packed food with NO added sugar? Or that it takes 4 pounds of grapes to make 1 pound of raisins? Sure does. In late August, early September the grapes are picked and laid on rows of poly paper trays in the vineyard (pictured below) and allowed to dry au natural for two to three weeks when the fresh grapes become ta-da sun dried raisins. And we got to see it all up close and personal on a harvest tour.
Some growers also use the dried on vine (DOV) method of drying raisins. Which is exactly as it sounds, the drying process happens while the grapes are still on the grapevine. Another tidbit – Fresno is definitely fertile, 99% of the domestic raisin crop is grown within a 90 mile radius of Fresno, California. Fresno is where it’s at.
After a trek around the vines we headed back to Circle K Ranch for a raisin tasting. I’ve never had tastier raisins before in my life. I could have stayed there all afternoon and been one happy camper. Tasting raisins, sipping wine (wait there was no wine).
But we were off to follow the raisins to their next stop – the processing plant. Here they’re inspected, washed and packaged and then they make their way to US the consumers.
Every single person we met throughout the day was passionate about raisins and it showed. I’m always excited to see how our food is grown. To follow it from the fields to the processing plant and meet the people who pour their hearts and souls into the whole process.
Our day ended with a meal (how gorgeous is that table) to celebrate the raisin. It was made by amazingly talented chefs and it definitely paid homage to the rad raisin. I’m looking forward to sharing more fun facts as well as a few raisin recipes with you over the course of the next few months.
Disclaimer: I am an ambassador for CA Raisins. CA Raisins sponsored my trip to Fresno and covered all expenses in conjunction with the trip. Opinions are my own. Always have been. Always will be.