Raisins, or kismis/kishmish as they are called in India, are dried grapes. There are as many kinds of kismis as there are grape varieties- green, purple, red, even champagne, to name some. The most common kismis are made from the seedless, green grapes called ‘Thompson Seedless’.
Kismis are made from grapes by a three step process which involves pre-treatment, drying, and post-drying.
Getting under the skin
Kismis are little purses of nutrients.
They are 72% sugars like glucose and fructose and good energisers. They also contain dietary fibre, are high in certain antioxidants, low in sodium, and contain no cholesterol. They are also rich in potassium and magnesium.
Glowing skin means fit within
The skin is the biggest organ of the human body. We always say “glowing with good health”. The real secret to great skin is good health and proper nourishment.
Kismis contain fibre that swells in the presence of water. This makes them a good digestive aid to keep bowel movements regular and thus rid the body of waste.
The potassium and magnesium content in kismis helps to reduce acidity and thus maintain the pH balance of the body in general, and the stomach, in particular. This is essential for healthy bodily functions. It also neutralises stomach acid which in turns reflects in a healthy and blemish-free skin.
Raisins are also loaded with iron, B-complex and copper: all good for the production of blood and the prevention of anaemia. Pale, flaky skin is often the result of low blood counts. A handful of kismis a day will work more wonders than all the beauty aids and skin care products that money can buy!
Black kismis, in particular, aids the liver in flushing out toxins. A clean body means clear skin.
The amino acids (proteins) and vitamins in kismis help in renewing skin cells. All those sun-damaged cells slough off and are replaced by their younger cousins. At the same time, the phytochemicals in kismis protect skin cells from the damage caused by the rays of the sun. Eating a handful of kismis will help to keep your skin young this way.
The antioxidants in kismis speed up skin repair and ‘plump’ out skin cells – like when you fluff a pillow. Kismis works magic by making fine lines, wrinkles and skin blemishes disappear.
Unfortunately for the human race, quick bucks are the prime consideration in most ventures even at the cost of good health. This is true of commercial production of kismis too.
Have you ever seen grapes in the market? They have a liberal coat of white powdery pesticide which clings to them even after several washes. All this is transferred to kismis. Pesticide residues restrict the liver’s ability to process toxins and flush them out of the body.
Commercially grown kismis are also treated with sulfites to enhance their colour. This aggravates and causes asthma, respiratory and other allergies.
Grapes can be organically grown by using biofertilizers like manure and vermicompost. Pests can be kept away by using natural predators like ladybugs and praying mantises, bio-pesticides like a mix of neem oil and soapy water, and baited traps for common grape pests like aphids and flea beetles. Chemical-free grapes mean chemical free kismis. This is what the discerning consumer should buy.
Buy organic to reap the full benefits of kismis.
In truth, kismis can be enjoyed straight out of the container- neat!
Kismis are used in salads, in baked items like cakes and cookies, in confectionery and desserts.
They are fried and used to garnish both savoury dishes like pulao and sweets like halwas and kheers.
They can be used as healthy additions to breakfast cereals like muesli and homemade granola bars.
How to buy and store
It would be best to buy an organic brand of kismis which well-sealed packing to protect from moisture and moulds.
Choose kismis that are plump and fleshy; this dried out specimens are low quality. There is neither taste nor benefit in eating them.
Make sure that the stock is not old and is free from insect pests: humans are not the only connoisseurs of kismis!
Not only is kismis great for your skin, but it is also great for your overall health. The American College of Cardiology has recommended that eating raisins/kismis three times a day lowers blood pressure significantly. The next time you want to eat a snack or something sweet, don’t pop that chocolate or those chips in your mouth. Just treat yourself to a handful of kismis.
Now that you know the secret to good health and glowing skin, buy a good organic brand of kismis right away!
by Karthik Guduru