This Genius Hack Will Change the Way You Feel About Raisins

If you're not plumping your raisins to elevate salads, pasta, chicken, and more, you're totally missing out.

Garlicky, cumin-spiced oil enhances the flavor in this recipe for Spiced Carrot Salad.
Photo: Greg DuPree

Raisins are so much more than just a trail mix addition or a standalone stack. These tiny dried grapes pack a mighty punch when you're looking to enhance a dish. Not convinced? You're about to change your mind.

When you plump raisins, they magically expand and become irresistibly juicy and flavorful. Best of all, plumping raisins is easy—you don't even need a recipe. Simply place a handful of raisins in a bowl, cover them in liquid, and let them marinate; Let your raisins plump while you cook the rest of your meal—or soak them overnight.

Then drain the liquid and add the plumped raisins to your dish. They're a secret flavor weapon in chunky dressings, beefy hand pies, a pot of braised chicken, and pasta. You can even plop your plumped raisins into the batter of your baked goods. Then, either discard the soaking liquid or reserve it for another use, like salad dressing.

You can soak your raisins in practically any liquid. Reach for whatever you have in your pantry or refrigerator. In this Moroccan-inspired Spiced Carrot Salad, the raisins soak in lemon juice to plump for just five minutes. But feel free to use other juices like orange or lime, vinegar such as apple cider vinegar, white or red wine vinegar, or balsamic vinegar. In fact, this Spice Cake recipe uses apple juice. Got a bit of leftover wine? Go for it. Even water works!

And here's a hack within a hack: if you need to reach maximum raisin plumpness in a pinch, try soaking your raisins in liquid that's been heated—like in this Brussels Sprout side dish. Heated liquids will give you faster results, but they're definitely not a must.

You can plump both golden and dark raisins, though golden raisins are naturally more plump because of their drying process. Golden raisins are treated to prevent them from darkening and then dried using artificial heat. Dark raisins are sun-dried, which dries them out more—and makes the plumping process a tad trickier.

RELATED: 6 Things to Do With Pinot Grigio—Besides Drink It

Now that you know how to plump your raisins, you'll never go back to standard raisins in their store-bought condition. And you might never be able to stop eating them in rugelach with raisin jam.

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