This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
ON reading the article taken from a correspondent of the Pacific Rural Press, from Napa county, California, page 85, in your number for March, current volume of The Horticulturist, etc., giving his plan (which is very good, as far as it goes) for converting grapes into raisins - when we consider the abundance of fine grapes, raised not only in California, but throughout the United States, there appears no necessity for importing 300,000 cwt. of raisins into the United States annually. It seems the process employed in Europe (Turkey and Spain) should be better known to grape growers, and some things mentioned which said correspondent omits:
" Sweet, fleshy, grapes are selected for maturing into raisins, and such as grow upon the sunny slopes of hills, sheltered from the north winds. The bunches are pruned, and the vine is stripped of its leaves, when the fruit has become ripe; the sun then beaming full upon the grapes completes their saccharification, i. e., to convert the pulp into glucose, or grape sugar, by expelling the superfluous water. This accomplished, the raisins or bunches of partially dried grapes are plucked and cleaned from defective portions, and dipped, for a few seconds, in a boiling lye of wood ashes and quick lime, at twelve or thirteen degrees of Beaunie's areometer. This closes the pores of the skin and tends to preserve them from further decay or change. The wrinkled fruit is lastly drained, dried and exposed in the sun upon hurdles of basket-work during fourteen or fifteen days. The finest raisins are those of the sun, so-called; being the plumpest bunches, which are left to ripen fully upon the vine, after their stalks have been half cut through"
Why should we not be able to succeed, under favorable circumstances, in this process of drying grapes, as well as in Province, Calabria, etc., of Spain and Portugal, or like those imported from Smyrna, Damascus and Egypt; especially in our Southern states? Of the kinds (or names at least) of grapes, there seems to be a formidable list, with which I shall not meddle; my object is simply to throw additional light on the mode of converting grapes into raisins, as a hint might be desirable to some who may not be acquainted with the process employed. J. S.