Where do California Raisins come from?

It’s a little more complicated than simply saying ‘California’.  The San Joaquin Valley produces 12.8% of the United States’ agricultural production and is often referred to as ‘the salad bowl’ of America.

Seen from space, the San Joaquin is a 240 mile long by 50 mile wide valley lying between the Sierra Mountains and the Western Coastal Ranges.  Around 60 million years ago, the San Joaquin Valley was flooded with ocean water.  However, 2 million years ago the exit to the sea was cut off as sea levels declined and the valley became a fresh water lake.  Sediments then built up over the next generations, the lake became shallower and shallower until it eventually dried up.   The remaining thick layers of nutrient-rich sediments produced soil which is light coloured and rich in potash, resulting in the San Joaquin Valley becoming one of the world’s most productive agricultural regions.

During the summer months, temperatures in the San Joaquin area can reach 44C (110F) and the vines are continually fed by a complex irrigation system of pure mountain water.
This unique combination of quality soil, irrigation and consistent drying conditions all combine to produce the highest quality raisins from California, eaten in over 100 countries worldwide.


  1. John Murphy says

    What is the difference between raisins and sultanas?

    • Nick Richardson says

      Hi John,

      Thanks for your comment. Here is a reply for you.

      When is a RAISIN not a RAISIN…

      Let’s start at the beginning. Simply put raisins are grapes with the water removed. Sounds simple but it’s true. However producing the world’s best raisins takes years of practice and dedication form California Raisin growers and packers.

      California Raisins are typically dried grapes of the ‘Vitis vinifera’ Natural Seedless varietal type and are dried only by the sun, whether on paper trays or dried on the vine. Natural (Sun-Dried) seedless raisins include the Thompson seedless and other newer cultivars such as Selma Pete, Fiesta. California Golden Seedless and California Dipped Seedless raisins are mechanically dried. Other raisin varietal types include Zante Currant, Muscat, Monnuka, and others.
      Raisins differ from sultanas in because they are dried differently. Raisins lie naturally in the sun for 3 weeks, whilst Sultanas are dipped in a potash solution which speeds up the drying process. Because of the natural sun drying process the distinctive blue/black colour of California Raisins is
      fixed and they have slightly thicker skins which prevents them from disintegrating during manufacturing or when baked or cooked.

      …when it’s a Sultana.

      You can take the RAISIN out of CALIFORNIA, but you can’t take CALIFORNIA out
      of the RAISIN

      Think Raisins, Think California.

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