Raisin paste and concentrate serve as shelf-life extenders and natural preservatives when used in certain baked goods. Find out how.

More bakers are recognizing the benefits of using not just raisins but raisin paste and concentrate in their baked goods as natural preservatives, fat replacers and shelf life-extenders.

Raisin paste can be used in fillings and as an ingredient in extrudable cookies and bars, according to the California Raising Marketing Board’s “Baking with California Raisins” guidebook. Meanwhile, raisin juice concentrate can be used as a browning ingredient and mold inhibitor due to its naturally occurring acid content, the CRMB notes. Both ingredients are composed of differing amounts of water, proteins, lipids and carbohydrates, and multiple minerals and vitamins, as detailed by the guidebook.

The exciting thing about raisins, says Craig Ponsford, co-owner of Artisan Bakers and chairman of the Bread Bakers Guild of America, is that it’s a natural product with many abilities.

“It’s a super fun kind of ingredient to discover if you’re in the world of trying to make products for the marketplace,” he says. For example, Ponsford uses raisin puree as a fat substitute in muffins and raisin concentrate in some of his whole grain products.

And “I obviously use a lot of California raisins for flavor and appearance,” he adds.

Although he does not claim to be a scientist when it comes to extensive testing of raisin concentrate in baked goods, Ponsford notes that he can push shelf-life by five or six days in a whole grain loaf, for example, simply by using the ingredient.

Perhaps proving his faith in the benefits of raisins, Ponsford recently penned a booklet for the CRMB entitled “Artisan Baking: Twelve Baking Recipes Using California Raisins,” which includes formulas for everything from a Sprouted Sour Rye Roll With Zante Currents to Golden Raisin Apricot Rugalach. (For a copy of “Artisan Baking,” visit www.LoveYourRaisins.com or e-mail larry@raisins.org.)

Bakers interested in using raisins, raisin paste or raisin concentrate in their baked goods can purchase these ingredients in a variety of package and box styles, as well as weights, with most bulk users purchasing 5- or 30-lb. boxes, says Larry Blagg, senior vice president of marketing for the CRMB. California raisins are distributed among national and regional bakery and foodservice wholesalers. Ask your suppliers about stocking these ingredients, or visit  www.LoveYourRaisins.com and search the Professionals section for a list of processors. SF&WB

Editor’s Note: Information for this advertorial was provided by the California Raisin Marketing Board. For more information, visit www.CalRaisins.org.