Few food-related facts are able to truly shock us anymore, but we’ve encountered one that really has us scratching our heads: Not only are golden raisins made from the exact same grapes as standard purple ones — the grapes they’re made with are green!
About 95 percent of all raisins in production (including Sun-Maid’s) are made with a variety of grape called the Thompson Seedless, which is a very light green color (other popular raisin grapes include the Selma Pete and Flame, which are light green as well). When they’re dried, however, they take on that familiar purplish hue.
Setting aside the fact that these white grapes eventually turn purple once dried, how exactly are they turned back into golden raisins? Instead of being dried in the sun like purple raisins, golden raisins are dried inside industrial dehydrators, and they’re also treated for six to eight hours with sulfur dioxide before drying, which preserves their natural light color.
There are a couple of other raisiny terms that you may have heard of, so we’ll tackle those as well: currants and sultanas. Currants, also called Zante currants, are made by drying out Black Corinth grapes, which are purple. They’re not to be confused with black (or red or white) currants, which are berries that grow on small shrubs.
Sultanas are a little more complicated than that. By definition, the word “sultana” is another name for the Thompson seedless grape, so it can technically refer to basically any standard raisin, no matter the color. Most people who use the word sultana, however, use it to refer to golden raisins; the term is especially common in the U.K. and Australia.