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Difference Between Raisins, Sultanas, and Currants

Raisins, sultanas, and currants are three kinds of dried grapes. While they all share many similarities, they also have their own unique features.

What Are Raisins?

Raisins are grapes that have been dried. They can be made from a wide variety of grape types, and different grapes create different flavors and textures in the raisins.

Raisins can be dried in different ways. Natural-dried raisins are dried in the sun and will have a dark color. They take about 3 weeks to completely dry. 

Raisins that are made using different drying methods or different types of grapes may have different names.

What Are Sultanas?

Sultanas are a type of raisin. You might hear them called “golden raisins.”  Like most raisins in the United States, sultanas are made from Thompson Seedless grapes. They are medium-sized green grapes and are grown primarily in California.

To create sultanas, the grapes have to undergo a different kind of drying process. Instead of being dried naturally, they are dipped in a solution and put through large dehydrators. They only take a few hours to dry compared to the few weeks for natural raisins. 

Because of this quicker drying process, sultanas are lighter in color than natural raisins. They look yellow instead of black or brown. They are usually smaller than natural raisins and have a more juicy sweetness to them than either raisins or currants. 

What Are Currants?

Not to be confused with the black currant, which is a type of berry, currants are raisins made from a specific type of grape — Black Corinth. They are also called Zante currants or Corinth currants.

Black Corinth grapes are seedless and quite small. They were originally grown in the Mediterranean region and have been used to make raisins for a long time. Today, Greece is the largest producer of currants. California, Australia, and South Africa also produce currants.

When dried for a few weeks, these tiny grapes get even smaller, and they pack a sweet and tangy flavor. Currants are the smallest dried grape, smaller than both raisins and sultanas. 

Health Benefits of Raisins, Sultanas, and Currants

One major benefit of raisins, sultanas, and currants is their high level of fiber, particularly soluble fiber. A quarter-cup of any of these dried fruits can give you around 7% of your daily fiber requirement.

Fiber is an important part of your diet for many reasons: 

  • It aids digestion by softening and bulking up stool, which can prevent constipation.
  • It keeps you feeling full longer, which can help you maintain or lose weight.
  • It can help reduce your blood sugar levels, which reduces your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • It reduces levels of "bad" cholesterol (LDL).
  • It can help your heart by lowering your blood pressure and reducing your risk of heart disease.
  • It can reduce your risk of colorectal cancer.

Continued

Raisins, sultanas, and currants are also a great source of iron. Iron is critical for making red blood cells, which transport oxygen to the cells of your body. If you do not get enough iron, you may develop anemia and feel tired, cold, and unwell.

They also contain calcium and the trace element boron, both of which are important for bone and tooth health. Raisins, sultanas, and currants can help prevent osteoporosis and can keep your bones and joints healthy. They also contain notable amounts of potassium, copper, vitamin B6, and manganese.

Raisins, sultanas, and currants also contain a high amount of naturally occurring chemical compounds called phytonutrients. These chemicals are considered antioxidants. They remove free radicals from your blood to prevent damage. Antioxidants can help prevent cancer, heart disease, and stroke. 

How To Eat Raisins, Sultanas, and Currants

These dried grapes are part of many sweet and savory dishes from around the world. Of course, they also make a wonderful snack on their own for kids or adults. They're a great alternative to candy or other sweets, as they often satisfy a sugar craving while offering some nutritional benefits.

Here are a few ideas for how to add raisins, sultanas, and currants into your diet:

  • Mix with nuts and other dried fruits for a healthy trail mix snack.
  • Sprinkle on top of yogurt, oatmeal, or cereal.
  • Bake into cookies, scones, or granola bars.
  • Toss into a green salad, or try a lentil and grain salad.
  • Add as a garnish to curry or stir-fry for a sweet pop.
WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

‌‌Britannica: "Raisin."

Christensen, L. Peter, Raisin Production Manual, Regents of the University of California, 2000.

The California Garden Web: “Viticultural Information.”, “Zante Currant.”

Mayo Clinic: “Dietary fiber: essential for a healthy diet.”

Nutrients: "Is Eating Raisins Healthy?"

Politismos Museum of Greek History: The unique foods of Greece and their health benefits."

University of Rochester Medical Center: “What Are Red Blood Cells?”

USDA Food Data Central: "Currants, zante, dried." 

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