What’s the Difference: Raisins, Currants, Sultanas & Candied Peel?

Ever wondered why it’s called a ‘currant bun’ and not a ‘sultana bun’? Or why your raisin bran cereal in the US, but the same thing is called a sultana bran in the UK?

Ever wondered why it’s called a ‘currant bun’ and not a ‘sultana bun’? Or why your raisin bran cereal in the US, but the same thing is called a sultana bran in the UK? Get all the answers you need about the difference between raisins, currants & sultanas here!



What’s the difference: in form?

Raisins are dried grapes which vary upon which type of grape is used.

What’s the difference: in processing?

The water of the grape must be removed during diffusion, and can be done so by either sun drying, shade drying or mechanical drying. Sun dried raisins are more likely to be contaminated by GMOs and other environmental impacts such as insects and microbial deterioration. Sometimes sulphur dioxide is added to the raisins before drying to keep the outer shell brown and preserve flavour.

What’s the difference: in nutritional value?

Raisins are mostly comprised of natural sugars from the grape (around 72%) but have a low glycemic index and naturally have a good dose of dietary fibre. The drying process means the vitamin C of the grape is largely reduced, which can be partially prevented by adding the sulphur dioxide before drying.

Related posts: What’s the Difference: Steel Cut vs Rolled vs Instant Oats?


What’s the difference: in form?

Sultanas are essentially seedless raisins, made from the same type of grapes. The naming of either ‘raisin’ or ‘sultana’ is often interchangeable in Commonwealth countries, with breakfast cereals being called ‘raisin bran’ in the USA and Canada vs ‘sultana bran’ in the UK and Australia. This is because most of the raisins in the USA are made from the sultana seedless grape variety, the Thompson Seedless.

What’s the difference: in processing?

Sultanas are typically steeped in water, potassium carbonate and vegetable oil to quicken the drying process, whereas raisins are typically dried by other means. Raisins will take longer to dry and are the reason they are darker in colour than sultanas – some say the slower drying time makes them a more nutritional fruit with more nutrients restored in the dried grape.

What’s the difference: in taste?

Sultanas are more golden-coloured than raisins but any golden type of raisin can be used to make sultanas. This being said, there is no real discernible taste difference between raisins and sultanas.

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What’s the difference: in form?

Currants are one of the oldest known varieties of raisins, with the only difference in form being that they are from the grape ‘Black Corinth’. The Black Corinth is a much smaller grape than other varieties.

What’s the difference: in processing?

Currants are processed in the same way as raisins, hence their dark colour. They’re traditionally more difficult to come by than raisins or sultanas as they are intensely prone to disease, which appears during cultivation and rots the fruit.

What’s the difference: in taste?

Currants are more intense in flavour than raisins or sultanas, due to their smaller size. Their added sweetness and small size is why they work best in doughy baked goods vs. raisins or sultanas.

Candied Peel

What’s the difference: in form?

When you’re cooking for Xmas you’ll likely come across candied peel when making festive puddings, like Christmas cake and stollen – or anything that comes wrapped in a cloak of marzipan.

It is a little harder than raisins, currants and sultanas. That’s because it is a cooked citrus product that is then dried. You’ll find these in either yellow, orange, or light green colours as they come from the skin of limes, lemons, and oranges.

What’s the difference: in processing?

Candied peel is essentially the skin of citrus fruits that has been cooked in sugar syrup and dehydrated. The ‘candied’ moniker comes from the sugar syrup, as the syrup binds to the peel giving it a flavoursome, long-lasting end result.

If you don’t have candied peel in the cupboard for your Christmas pudding, you can just grate or zest citrus fruits. But be warned, you may need a lot of them to deliver on the flavour punch that typical candied peel provides.

What’s the difference: in taste?

Imagine eating raw citrus skin. It’s pretty bitter, isn’t it? The same is sometimes true of candied peel – although the sugar syrup does a lot to break down the acridity during the cooking stage. It goes really well with the overtly saccharine taste of marzipan and is also a perfect companion to be baked alongside raisins, currants, and sultanas.

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