History

1490 B.C. – Where on earth did raisins come from?

We believe that grapes, drying on the vine, were discovered in pre-historic times.

Between 120 and 900 B.C – It’s all Greek to me!

Commercial markets for raisins developed in Greece and Rome, which were supplied by the Phoenicians, growing grapes in Greece and Southern Spain and the Armenians with vineyards in Persia. Neither climate was ideal for drying raisins. Two varieties of grapes were being used at this time, Muscat which were large and full flavoured but contained seeds and another which was used by the farmers of Corinth in Greece which created a tiny, seedless, tangy currant.

11th century – Knights of the raisin table

Crusader knights introduced raisins to the rest of Europe when they returned home from the Mediterranean. These were soon being packed and shipped by the growers throughout northern Europe.

14th century – I’ll swap you two jars of raisins for one slave!

By the 14th century demand and prices for raisins were high in Europe. The English, French and Germans attempted to cash in and grow grapes for raisins, but their climates were too cold for drying the fruit. In the meantime, the Spanish were perfecting grape growing, whilst in Rome physicians prescribed raisins to cure anything from mushroom poisoning to old age (not as mad as it sounds now we know the antioxidant properties of raisins). Eventually, they became so valuable that two jars of raisins could be traded for one slave!

18th century – Queen of Raisins

Spain’s Queen Isabella sent missionaries to Mexico. While they were preaching and teaching, missionaries also passed on their knowledge of grape growing.

The Mexicans used grapes for sacramental wines and also grew Muscat grapes for raisins.

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