Raisins – I “wonder” why they have pips?

Post inspired by the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge This week’s theme is “Wonder”

Lucky I tried them!
Lucky I tried them!

Our very basic knowledge of Portuguese often means simple tasks turn into a challenge; today’s experience is a typical example. Although
I continue to study Portuguese I am struggling – the more I try, the more stressed I become!

After my recent “oven” saga I was keen to bake my favourite carrot cake so I gathered all the ingredients together adding them to the mixing bowl as per the recipe. Now,  I don’t know what made be “steal” a few raisins as they went into the cake mix, but I am glad I did! Crunch crunch When I started to chew the raisins I realised, to my horror, they still pips in!

Why sell raisins this size complete with pips, for goodness sake? What recipe could possible require pips?

I looked in horror at the raisins I’d already stirred into the cake-mix and cursed; they would need picking out – one by one!
The thought of leaving the raisins, and baking the cake regardless, did momentarily cross my mind but was quickly dismissed. Common sense prevailed as the prospect of chewing cake and removing pips at the same time did not appeal!

The clue as to why these particular raisin had pips may be on the product label but I am sure I can’t see the word “sementes” which I thought meant (seeds) pips. This is not the first time I’ve been caught out – so what’s the secret?

What am I missing here? Please can anyone shed some light on this mystery. The label says “Passa Uva Moscatel” what words should I be looking for so the raisins I buy are pip-free?

After all the raisins were extracted – I finally used sultanas. This is my carrot cake.

Carrot Cake
Carrot Cake

Related posts: Carrot cake recipe


47 thoughts on “Raisins – I “wonder” why they have pips?

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  1. Look for label saying “Passas de Uva – SEM SEMENTES”. I can’t understand why anyone would bother to make seedy raisins either, and I have been caught out this way. Birds in Portugal have so much to eat they don’t bother with them either.


  2. Loved your post. I am portuguese and living in The Netherlans since January. I am having the same problems with language and shopping. Here everything is in Dutch which doesn’t help! Don’t forget the word “grainhas”!
    I have always heard that Portuguese is one of the most difficult languages to learn. And the “Algarve accent” doesn’t help a bit! It’s difficult even for us. Try listening to the radio and if you watch TV programs in English try to read the subtitles ( I think it helps).
    Best of luck!


    1. Hi Teramir and welcome! I should imagine learning Dutch is even more difficult than Portuguese!
      I try and follow some Portuguese TV progams and read some articles in Portuguese online. It’s a slow process.

      I’m pleased to say a shop called Iceland opened in guia and I’ve been able to buy seedless raisins!



  3. Perhaps that’s just how Portuguese make raisins traditionally? (My two cents) But your last picture makes me miss carrot cake. When I travel to Portugal, I’ll be sure to drop by for a taste. 🙂


  4. I remember when I was a child raisins nearly always had pips ( at least the ones my mother bought did) I used to hate fruit cake because of them. There came a time when you could buy seedless raisins. It was a real treat to tuck in to a handful. Nowadays you just assume that they are seedless.
    Lovely cake Pip I just fancy a slice with a cup of tea – looks like the loan oven is working well.


  5. I never knew raisins could have pips!! It never even occurred to me so I would have definitely fallen into that one. I hate grapes with seeds too…

    When we first came to Germany I found myself buying things I tended to recognize.

    Just yesterday, I cooked a frozen product wrong (again) because I didn’t understand the instructions properly. Still it still tasted OK. (Not that we knew how it was supposed to actually taste ;-)).

    Your cake looks yummy.


  6. I’m just as baffled as you are and have had a devil of a job trying to track seedless raisins down. I did find a catering sized pack in Macro once but you’d need someone with a Macro card to get them. I think I saw some in Continente too but they were outrageously expensive. I just use the sultanas from Lidl’s now.


    1. Hi Julie,
      I went to Aldi today and they had some sultanas so I’ve opted for those.
      All the dried fruit here seems very expensive to me. I will just have to load up my suitcase with mixed fruit and raisins next time I’m in the UK!


  7. I too have been caught! I agree there is no indication on the packet whether there are pips or not. I now take one raisin to the corner of the packet and give it a gentle squeeze to test if there are pips or not – naughty I know, but why pay for pips if you don’t want them!! Also made a carrot cake this past week-end, used sultanas and chopped walnuts, it tastes good, at least that is what hubby says!
    Not speaking Portuguese is very frustrating, I am lucky hubby speaks it fluently, but I still want to learn. It is difficult as I don’t seem to have an ear for languages and am not used to the masculine/feminine thing, all the different endings, not to mention the irregular verbs…………………..
    Hope you get your oven back in one piece and fixed, what a saga!!


    1. Hi Joan,

      Interesting tip re squeezing one raisin to the corner of the packet. I’d not tried that. I am now on a raisin mission and when I do find some without pips I will post a photo to my blog so I don’t forget where I bought them!

      I have tried for years to learn Portuguese, but I am just linguistically challenged. I’ve spent thousands on private lessons plus I went to an evening course as well. I do hope you succeed!



  8. You carrot cake looks so delicious! I would stick to using Sultanas till you find out from a local what the deal is…I’m not aware of raisins with seeds… interesting. 🙂


  9. Dear Piglet, It’s because you bought Muscats, which are wine grapes, dried, and often have seeds. Usually available in the fall only. You want sultanas, same name in Portuguese. Package should say something about “uma uva branca sem grainhas ” which means from white seedless grapes. Best of luck. Katrina


  10. I am not a raisin fan. Don’t they always have a small “pip” in them? At the very least, sort of a “fibrous” center? Glad you saved your cake. It looks ñami-ñami.


  11. Dear Piglet,
    It’s the “Muscat” in the label. Almost all Muscat grapes create raisins with seeds. They can be seeded by rolling them with a rolling pin, a tedious process, or putting them through a food processor to cut up the seeds, making mush, not really what you want for cakes and puddings. Look for sultanas, sold throughout Europe and all pip free. In Portuguese they should be called sultanas and the label should say something like “uva branca sem grainhas ” white grapes without seeds. 😉 Cheers.


    1. Hi Katrina and Welcome! sorry for the delay I have just found your comments in SPAM! LOL
      You had not done anything wrong at all with your posting!
      Thanks for the tip re the rolling pin method I will apply this to the remaining packets I have in my store cupboard!
      kind regards,


  12. I can’t imagine why any raisins would have seeds still in them, unless they were for making wine or some sort of beverage where they wouldn’t be ate but would be strained out eventually. Maybe?
    I’m glad you caught the raisins in time to save your batter. Your carrot cake looks like it turned out lovely. I bet it smelled heavenly and tastes delicious.


    1. It not only smelled heavenly and tasted delicious but we have eaten it already! PIGS, that we are1. In fact, by the time I remembered to take the photo it was half eaten!

      Strange about the raisins, I know. Maybe there is a recipe that needs them 🙂


  13. Oh, my. It’s bad enough to bite into a grape and find seeds when you expected seedless . . . I’ve never heard of raisins with seeds.

    And your cake . . . looks YUMMY!!!


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