Raisins are a mainstay of local food in Xinjiang, and have been for centuries. Whether baked into cakes and bread, eaten by the handful as a healthy snack, or as the main ingredient in a raisin-sauce, rasins are enjoyed by nearly everyone in the region. The local climate lends itself readily to their cultivation, as mature grapes must loose 85-75% of their water content before becoming rasins. However this must be done in a drying-house or in the shade of the vine; grapes dried in sunlight quickly become sour.
The best grapes in all of China come from Turpan, in Xinjiang. This is because of the very hot, dry weather in the Turpan Depression that last for much of the year. The locals dry their grapes with a century old method; the brick drying house. This square, brick structure has large spaces between each level of bricks, which allows air to move through. Hanging from the ceiling are many dried tree branches on which bunches of grapes are hung. Using this method ripe, mature grapes can become high-quality raisins in as little as two days.
Raisins are high in fiber, and are locally prescribed to pregnant women. They are said to increase oxygen in blood and improve color.
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