3 gut-friendly raisin recipes for a traditional festive feast

Raisins offer lots of health benefits. At the very least, they’re good for the digestive system and can help keep things running smoothly

That’s why we’ve handpicked a selection of our favourite festive recipes from Raisins South Africa.

South African raisins are the perfect sweet addition to many Christmas recipes and they’re natural!

They’re sundried in the Western and Northern Cape regions, with exceptionally high levels of sunshine and water from the Orange and Olifants rivers, creates the world’s highest quality raisins.

Varieties to look out for in supermarkets are:
Thompson – brown to dark brown in colour with a rich and sweet flavour
Golden – light yellow to golden in colour with a soft texture
Flame – dark deep red/black in colour, sweet flavour and a soft, chewy texture

Not sure what to do with them? Check out the recipes below.

South African Raisin & Apple Fruit Mince

When used with a ready made puff pastry, this mincemeat makes the most delicious mince pies!

Ingredients:

  • 2 small Granny Smith apples, washed and grated (include the peel as it is really nutritious)
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 large orange zest and juice (about 250ml of juice)
  • 300g South African sultanas and/or raisins
  • 1-2 tbsp raw honey
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 60ml water
  • 2 tbsp brandy (optional)

Method:

  1. Heat a medium sized pot on the stove over a medium to high heat.
  2. Melt the coconut oil and fry the apples for a minute to soften.
  3. Add the orange zest and juice and mix well.
  4. Turn down the heat to low.
  5. Add the rest of the ingredients – except the brandy.
  6. Mix everything together, cover and leave to gently simmer for about 20-30 minutes.
  7. Stir once or twice, but not too often as the raisins can turn to a paste if overworked.
  8. It is ready when the raisins are plump and soft.
  9. Stir through the brandy, adding more if desired.
  10. Leave to cool, then store in a jar in the fridge.

Cook’s tip: Add 200g crushed walnuts or pecans for a nutty crunchy taste.

Recipe created by Donna Crous.

Light Fruity Christmas Cake

This is an easy, fruity cake with a light batter that doesn’t require you to boil the fruit beforehand.

To make it even easier, use the cake mix of dried fruit which is a mix of South African raisin, sultanas and citrus peel in a delicious ratio.

You can make this in a 22-24cm cake tin or a loaf, or mini loafs. These make lovely Christmas presents too.

Ingredients:

  • 250gm butter
  • 210gms caster sugar
  • 5 free-range eggs
  • 100gm ground almonds
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground allspice
  • 210gms flour
  • 200gm cake mix dried fruit (or 100gms each South African raisins & sultanas + 20gms citrus peel)
  • 80gms glace cherries, cut in half or quarters
  • 60gms dates (stoned and roughly chopped)
  • 100gms roughly chopped pecan nuts
  • 50gms blanched almonds (optional to decorate the top of the cake)
  • 100ml brandy to sprinkle

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 140C and line your baking tin with baking paper.
  • Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add each egg one at a time, ensuring the batter is mixed well be for the next addition. Scrape the bowl down as you go.
  • Add all the spices, ground almonds and flour and beat until well combined.
  • Add the fruit and mix briefly.
  • Tip into your lined cake tin and bake for 11/2 hours until firm to the touch and when a sharp knife is inserted into the middle it comes out clean. Leave it in for a little longer if necessary. Smaller cakes will bake for a shorter time.
  • Sprinkle with the brandy and store tightly wrapped up until you need it. If you are making this long in advance of Christmas, add more brandy every 2 – 3 weeks.

Recipe created by Sam Linsell, Drizzle and Dip.

Festive South African Raisin, Apple & Pomegranate Strudel

This easy-to-make strudel is made with bought filo pastry, filled with a delicious mixture of brandy-soaked South African raisins, ground almonds, thinly sliced apples and pomegranate seeds. It makes a perfect festive dessert!

Preparation time: 25 minutes, plus soaking time

Cooking time: 30-35 minutes

Serves: 8

Ingredients:

  • 80g South African raisins
  • 1tbsp brandy
  • Vegetable oil, for greasing
  • 270g pack frozen filo pastry, thawed (7 sheets)
  • 80g butter, melted
  • 2 large eating apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1tbsp lemon juice
  • 80g ground almonds
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 50g pomegranate seeds
  • To decorate:
  • Rosemary sprigs (optional)
  • Icing sugar, for dusting

Method:

1  Put the raisins into a bowl, cover with boiling water and soak for 15 minutes. Drain thoroughly, then add the brandy. Stir well and soak for 1-2 hours, or overnight.

2  Preheat the oven to 200°C, fan oven 180°C, Gas Mark 6. Grease a large baking sheet.

3  On a work surface, layer 3 sheets of filo pastry on top of each other, brushing each one with melted butter.

4  Mix together the apples, lemon zest, lemon juice, ground almonds, caster sugar and pomegranate seeds. Stir in the soaked raisins, along with any brandy that hasn’t been absorbed. Scatter half evenly over the pastry. Place 2 more filo sheets on top, brushing each one with butter. Scatter the rest of the fruit mixture on top as before. Layer two more sheets of pastry on top, brushing each one with butter.

5  Carefully roll up the filo pastry from the short end to enclose all the filling, and slide the baking sheet underneath, with the seam of the pastry underneath. Don’t worry if the pastry breaks a little. Brush with the remaining butter.

6  Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm or cold, topped with rosemary sprigs (if using) and sprinkled with icing sugar.

Cook’s tips:

*Slice the apples thinly so that they cook properly.

*Mix Greek yogurt and lemon zest together to accompany the strudel, or serve with cream or crème fraiche.

Disover the health benefits of raisins here

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