OK, this one is for all you who don't necessarily think of raisins as "turds from Satan's pet bunny rabbit". I see a lot of recipes (especially refined-sugar-free dessert recipes) out there calling for "date paste".
My question is, why aren't raisins, which are similarly fructose/sweetness-dense, used as an baking option more often? It seems to me that raisins are often cheaper and more easily acquired than dates, as well as similarly blendable (especially after soaking). Is there a baking chemical / textural issue? Has anybody ever baked with some kind of blend of raisins, aka "raisin paste"? How did it turn out?
ETA: I realize that raisins are not health food - and I'm not asking for any nutritional basis to eat them like it was going out of style. My question is aimed at those who can explain why raisins aren't used in real food refined-sugar-free baking as much as dates - is there a chemical/textural reason?
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I believe the raisin skins are somewhat problematic (more skin, less meat) and its harder to get a smooth textured paste because of it. Also the date taste and overall texture is a bit more refined than that of raisins.
I would contend that dates have a more neutral, mellow flavor and lack the tartness of raisins. Perhaps they are less acidic?
Seems like something that was sweetened with raisins would taste like.. raisins. Not so much with dates.
I'll go out on a limb and say, "Try it and see" :) I don't see what the big difference would be, personally. Maybe the sugar isn't as dense in raisins as it is in dates?
Should be easy enough to make, just whiz a bunch in a food processor.
As a baker I'd rather not use either because as substitutes go they sound like they would create many problems in baking because of stickiness or heaviness in baked goods.
I like both fine as dried fruits however so if adding them as dried fruits I think you could use either one. My guess as to why dates and not raisins is that dates do not need soaking to access their flesh so no added liquid would get into the recipe. The liquid used to soak raisins in order to make a smooth paste would alter the chemistry in your baked goods.
As stated above dates have a more neutral sweetness than raisins which are generally more sweet/tart. Perhaps that is another reason.
I just thought of this. Is there such a thing as (dry) date sugar? What if you could super dry your raisins and then grind them up like sugar. That wouldn't add any liquid. hmmmmm
If you have access to dried figs, you might give them a try as well. My cousin tells me she's been using dried figs as a substitute for dates in baking for a while.
One big plus with raisin paste as opposed to date paste is that raisin paste keeps bread from molding. Your bread will keep longer. I'm all for that!
I use raisin paste all the time in my BREAD baking where it calls for tablespoonful of honey or agave nectar. Why? Because raisin paste is a PRESERVATIVE. Not only does it sweeten, it preserves. It also tastes terrific in bread, not too sweet but just right. The reason I have to preserve my bread is because I want it to last without having to refrigerate it. I don't like refrigerated bread.
When you think of raisin paste, remember that some large manufacturers use it in their baked goods for its preservative properties. Inhibits mold. Great stuff, raisin paste. Try it!
i use raisin paste in place of honey in bread recipes--raisins are a natural mold inhibitor and extend the shelf life by a couple of days