If one is to talk about grapes, then the conversation should at least cover those of the dried varieties.
Dried grapes have most likely been around for thousands of years, as finding a one on the vine was quite likely. They were also quite popular in ancient Greece and Rome and even in Southern Spain. It was the crusades that brought the dried treats to Northern Europe where they became the staple that we associate them with today.
It was the Spaniards who brought the processing of drying grapes to what it now present day California, through their vinyards that came with the missions that dotted the area in the 18th century. As histories go, it’s not all that exciting, and it certainly doesn’t compare with, say, the history of Salt or wine. But a story is a story, right?
We Americans tend to think of raisins as any dried grape, which ia kinda-sorta correct. There are dried grapes which stand outside of the “raisin” nomenclature, specifically currants and sultanas. But even these names can be misleading in their own peculiar ways.
Raisins: The raisins you and I know and love typically come from the Thompson Seedless variety, which dry and darken in the sunlight.
Currants: Currants are teeny tiny grapes that come from the Zante grape. They originally come from Greece but are now being grown in many places worldwide.
Sultanas: These are the ones that cause people confusion because initially these white raisins came from the Sultana grape found in Turkey. However, nowadays most Sultanas bought and sold are simply the same Thompson seedless grapes found in our everyday variety raisin, with the exception that they are instead treated with sulphur dioxide and heated artificially, to give it that plumper texture and golden appearance. Whether or not you feel this is a big deal or not depends on your passion for sultanas.