According to Sunmaid raisins, golden raisins are made from the same Thomson seedless grape used for their darker raisins. Their Natural Seedless raisins contain no additives or preservatives.
The golden raisin, however, is treated with sulfur dioxide and then baked in ovens. This chemical is a color fixer, used in many other dried fruits as well.
Sulfur dioxide has been used in the fruit drying process for centuries, but it can trigger an asthma-like reaction in some people.
Sulfur dioxide is used on other dried fruits as well, such as apricots.
Dried fruit without the sulfur dioxide is available in health food stores. The organic varieties of dried fruits are often darker, and have a slightly different flavor, sometimes more characteristic of the fruit when it was fresh.
It is possible to fix the color organically by treating the fresh fruit with an equal mixture of lemon juice and water prior to drying.
This process does not achieve the same color fixing results as sulfur dioxide, but it is a healthier option for those allergic to the chemical.
In spite of the increased calorie content and decreased levels of nutrition compared to fresh fruit, dried fruit can still be considered a healthy snack. Enjoy dried fruits in moderation.