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Raisins








The grape is best conserved as a raisin. Canning is seldom practiced
with this fruit. A raisin is a dried grape. Tree-fruits are evaporated
as by-products, but the raisin is a primary product. This is a
difference worth noting; for with tree-fruits the cream of the crop
goes to the fresh fruit market, while with the grape the entire crop
of raisin varieties may go into the cured product. The raisin industry
is dependent on a sunny and rainless climate and hence in America is
confined to the grape regions of certain parts of California. In this
state, raisin-making is a rich resource of the grape-grower, the
annual output now averaging well above 200,000 pounds, grown on
120,000 acres of land, and having a market value of $10,000,000.
Fresno County, California, produces nearly 60 per cent of the output
of the state and the city of Fresno is the center of the industry. The
raisin industry does not stand alone in California, as some raisin
grapes, notably Muscat of Alexandria, are good dessert sorts and are
also much used for wine and brandy. Only the first crop of the variety
named is used for raisins, while practically all of the second crop
each season is made into wine and brandy.

Raisins proper are mostly made from the Muscat of Alexandria, although
other large, white, sweet grapes are sometimes used. Sultana raisins,
naturally seedless, are made from Sultanina and the Sultana. The dried
currants of commerce are made from grapes, and of these California
produces small quantities from White Corinth.

The following account of raisin-making is given by Husmann:[20]

"In the raisin districts grapes are ripe by the middle of August, the
season often lasting into November. The average time necessary for
drying and curing a tray of raisins is about three weeks, depending on
the weather, the earliest picked grapes drying in ten days and the
later ones often taking four weeks or more.

"The method of drying is very simple. The bunches are cut from the
vines and placed in shallow trays 2 feet wide, 3 feet long, and 1 inch
high on which the grapes are allowed to sun-dry, being turned from
time to time by simply placing an empty tray upside down on the full
one and then turning both over and taking off the top tray. After the
raisins are dried they are stored away until they are packed and
prepared for shipment. Some of the larger growers, in order not to run
so much risk in drying on account of rain, and also to enable them to
handle the crop fast enough, have curing houses, where the curing is
finished after having been partially done outside."

Dipping and scalding raisins.

"The operation of dipping and scalding is designed to accomplish
several purposes, namely, to cleanse the fruit, to hasten its drying,
and to give the dried fruit a lighter color. In dipping and drying,
the fruit, immediately after being cut from the vines, is either
dipped in clear water to first rinse it of particles of dust and other
foreign matter, or it is taken direct to the scalder and immersed in a
boiling alkaline mixture called 'legia' (lye) until the grapes show an
almost imperceptible cracking of the skin, the operation consuming
perhaps from one-fourth to one-half of a minute. This dipping calls
for skill on the part of the operator, the duration of the emersion
depending on the strength and temperature of the mixture and the
condition of the fruit. Desiccation follows the scalding process,
which is accomplished on trays in the sun, the same as undipped
raisins cured entirely by solar heat. On account of the scald they
cure rapidly, and the fruit is also often of lighter color when cured.

"The following formula has been used for Sultana and Sultanina grapes
at Fresno:

"Fifteen pounds of 'Greenbank's 98-per cent lye' are boiled in 100
gallons of water. This mixture is for grapes containing 25 per
cent of sugar. Should their sugar content be less, enough lye is
added to remove the bloom and open the pores of the skin of the
grapes. After dipping, the grapes are spread on trays and
sulphured for 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Observation will show whether it
may be necessary to vary this formula a trifle to suit conditions
of ripeness and influence of temperature. The length of time
required for dipping is ascertained by experience, and differs
with the strength of the lye, the heat of the solution, and the
thickness of the skins of the grapes."

Packing raisins.

"The raisins as received at the packing house are weighed and the
loose raisins and those that are to be shipped as dried grapes are
immediately run through a stemmer and grader which stems, cleans, and
assorts the raisins into three or four different grades, after which
they are packed and shipped to various parts of the country, some also
being exported. Those producing cluster or layer raisins (if they have
not already been equalized) are first stored in the equalizing rooms.
In these rooms the sweat boxes, filled with layers of new raisins, are
stacked and left usually from 10 to 30 days, or long enough for the
overdried berries to absorb moisture from the under-dried ones. This
sweating also properly softens and toughens the stems, which prevents
their breaking and enables them to hold the berries better. In
California, where the climate is so dry, no first class pack could be
made without thus first equalizing the raisins. After having been
equalized the raisins are taken out, assorted into the different
grades, and placed in trays holding 5 pounds each. The trays of the
same grades are then pressed and stacked away in piles ready for
packing.

"Pressing the raisins so that they look well and so none are burst
open is work requiring experience and good judgment. It takes four
pressed trays to fill a 20-pound box. The loose raisins that have
dropped from the cluster through handling before they were equalized
are also graded, the largest, of course, making the choicest pack."

Classes of raisins.

"Previous to the consolidated organization of the packers the three
best grades of raisins on the stems were known as 'Imperial,'
'Dehesia,' and 'Fancy Clusters,' respectively. The California Raisin
Growers Association established classification and grades similar to
those of the Spanish raisin packers, on which the French trade names
are also based. The original Spanish, as well as English terms with
which they correspond, and the different grades in descending order of
quality are shown in the following table:

=========================================================================
SPANISH TERMSFRENCH TERMS ENGLISH TERMS CALIFORNIA TERMS
-------------+---------------+----------------------+--------------------
Imperial Imperiaux ExtraExtra Imperial ClusterSix-Crown Cluster
Imperial BajoImperiaux Imperial Cluster Five-Crown Cluster
Royan Bajo Royaux Royal Cluster Four-Crown Cluster
Cuarta (4a) Surchoix Extra Choicest Three-Crown Cluster
Quinta (5a) Choix Extra Choice Cluster Two-Crown Cluster
=========================================================================

"The grading is optical, as a result of experience, there being no
linear or cubic measurement standard. Thus, a nice cluster with all
berries of large size, would be a 'Six-Crown Cluster,' such being the
very finest raisins on the stem. 'Five-Crown Clusters' were formerly
the 'Dehesia' cluster, and 'Four-Crown Clusters' were formerly 'Fancy
Clusters.' Grades less than 'Four-Crown' on the stems (the
'Three-Crown' and 'Two-Crown') are known as 'Layers,' or 'London
Layers.' These are placed in boxes containing 20 pounds net; in half
boxes of 10 pounds; and quarter boxes of 5 pounds; and in fancy boxes
containing 2-1/2 pounds. Loose raisins, or raisins off the stem, are
graded into Two-Crown, Three-Crown, and Four-Crown raisins by being
run through screens the meshes of which are thirteen thirty-seconds,
seventeen thirty-seconds, and twenty-two thirty-seconds of an inch in
size, respectively. The Sultanina (erroneously called Thompson
Seedless), and the Sultana are packed in 12-ounce cartons, 45 to the
case."

Seeded raisins.

"The invention of a raisin-seeding machine by George E. Pettit in the
early seventies, and its use, has had a wonderful effect on the
industry.

"Seeded raisins were first put on the market by the late Col. William
Forsythe, of Fresno, Cal., who at first found it very difficult to
dispose of 20 tons. The output in the last 15 years has increased from
700 tons to 50,000 tons per annum, and their popularity is constantly
increasing. In 1900 about 14,000 tons were placed on the market, in
1905 about 21,000 tons, in 1910 about 31,000 tons, and in 1913 about
49,000 tons. The seeding machines in present use can turn out 300 tons
per day. Seeded raisins are now the most important branch of the
raisin industry.

"A brief outline of how seeded raisins are prepared will prove
interesting. The raisins are first exposed to a dry temperature of
140 deg. F. for three to five hours, after which they are put through a
chilling process so that the pedicels can be easily removed, and are
then thoroughly cleansed by being passed through cleaning machines.
They are then taken by automatic carriers to another room, spread out
on trays, and exposed to a moist temperature of 130 deg. F. to bring them
back to their normal condition. The raisins pass to the seeding
machine, where they are carried between rubber-faced rollers and the
impaling device of the seeding machine which catches the seeds and
removes them from the fruits as they are flattened between the
surfaces of the rollers. The impaled seeds are removed from the roller
by a whisking device in such a way as to be caught in a separate
receptacle. The seeded raisins pass through chutes to the packing
tables on the floor below.

"The seeded or loose raisins are packed in 50-pound boxes; in 1-pound
cartons, 36 to the case; in 12-ounce cartons, 45 to the case; and some
in bulk in 25-pound boxes.

"Information has recently been sent out to the effect that the
California Associated Raisin Co. is arranging to do away with the
grades in seeded raisins, so there will only be one grade. This
contemplates using all of the Three-Crown, the smallest of the
Four-Crown, and the best of the Two-Crown in one blended grade.

"From the seeds, formerly used as a fuel, a number of by-products are
now made.

"The seeds and pedicels removed from the raisins in seeding vary from
10 to 12 per cent of the original weight of the raisins according to
their conditions and quality.

"The grading, seeding, facing, and packing have become separate
branches of the industry, and the work is nearly all done by
especially trained women, who have become experts at it. The
establishments in which this work is done furnish employment for over
5000 persons. The aggregate pay roll each month during the season is
between $200,000 and $350,000."





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