Champion, RAM, Sun Maid, and More: We Tried 6 Brands of RaisinsJanuary 17, 2020
Love them or hate them, raisins are a great snack. These tiny, shriveled dried fruits contain a high level of fructose (which is why they’re sometimes called “nature’s candy”), making them a top choice as an energy-booster. Raisins also contain a good amount of fiber, protein, and carbohydrates. There are different varieties of raisins, differing in size, color, and the way they’re dried. In the Philippines, we’re accustomed to California-grown raisins. These use sun-dried Thompson Seedless grapes, and are preservative-free with no added sugar. We picked up six different brands from the supermarket. How do they compare?
Note: 4 out of 6 brands in this list are imported from the US; while the 2 local brands use Californian grapes.
California-based brand Champion advertises their product as having “sun-grown goodness.” Their raisins are in a safe mid-sized zone. They’re not too sweet, plus have a little bit of a bite to them, making them great for snacking. They’re a tad chalky, though. But we weren’t too mad at that. We’re giving this bonus points for sustainable packaging, “made with 100% recycled materials.”
Mariani is another Californian dried fruits brand. Their raisins are preservative-free and have no added sugar. That said, they don’t taste much like anything. The ingredients list includes sunflower oil, which we suspect was used to coat the raisins so they wouldn’t clump together. It worked, but the oil left a film on your hand whenever you reach into the box.
Mother’s Best is one of the two Filipino brands in this list. Sadly, their (California-grown) raisins prove “that mother doesn’t always know best.” They clump together, and have an old, earthy flavor. Some comparisons to it include “dirt,” “a spine of an old book in a public library,” and “wood.” They also have a weird plaster-/clay-like smell; plus, they were pretty tiny.
Local brand RAM’s raisins were a bit bigger than the others. They had a decent texture—dry, but not crumbly, and not too pasty. They were a bit tart, but in a good way. “It has enough flavor that you’d want to keep eating it,” a member of the team described it.
Sevilla’s California raisins are actually what our chef Kimmie uses when she bakes since it’s one of the cheaper options. (It’s actually the cheapest in this list.) It doesn’t taste too bad, and and is decent in size. It’s also moist to the bite. Weirdly, it doesn’t really taste like raisins; it does have a wine-y aftertaste, though.
Sun Maid is probably the most familiar out of all the brands. It’s what we all grew up munching on, so there was a higher level of expectation. But we were shocked to find out that it wasn’t as good as we remembered it to be. It was the most dry, and had a weird crumbly texture. There was also almost zero flavor.
The Verdict: Ram and Champion
The added tartness in an already great base makes RAM’s raisins our pick for munching on. On the other hand, our chef Kimmie recommends using Champion for cooking, since it had a sturdier textural profile.