The Quickest Way To Soften Up Stale Raisins Is In Your Microwave

You either love raisins or you hate them. And those who are not big fans of the dried fruits may have a box of them in the cupboard left over from the time they were asked to make broccoli raisin salad for the family potluck. In those cases, it may be months until those shriveled-up grapes see the light of day again, resulting in the raisins becoming hard and no longer suitable for baking.

Whether dried naturally under the sun or via a mechanical process, raisins have a shelf life of about six months to one year if they are properly stored in a sealed bag or container. While that's a longer shelf life than a lot of items, should your raisins get dried out before the next time you need them to make oatmeal raisin cookies or a batch of trail mix, there is a quick way to soften them, thanks in part to their great ability to absorb liquid. 

How to give old raisins new life

Raisins that have been sitting in storage for a while can harden due to their naturally high sugar content. But all you need to plump them up are a bowl, a small amount of warm water, and a microwave.

Simply take the dried-out ones and place them in a microwaveable bowl. Then, pour a few teaspoons of warm water over them before putting the bowl in the microwave and cooking for about 12 to 15 seconds. Afterward, empty out any remaining water from the bowl and then let the raisins sit and cool off. At that point, the raisins should have soaked up the water and become plump once again. 

Another similar approach is to submerge the hardened raisins entirely in liquid (it could be water, fruit juice, or liquor) and heat them in the microwave for two to three minutes. Then, allow them to sit and soak in the liquid for about 10 to 15 minutes before adding them to a batter. However, don't assume that the longer the raisins are soaking, the bigger and juicier they will become. There is a limitation on how big they will get and they tend to reach that point relatively quickly.

Whether you are a raisin fan or not, there's no reason to toss out hardened ones and make an ingredient substitution when it's so easy to give life to the dried grapes once again.