RAISINS: are special varieties of grapes prepared by drying. The term "dried grapes" is only applied to wine grapes dried in the sun and their only commercial use is for wine makers—they are not sold or used as "raisins." The first market division is into Imported and Domestic, or California.
Malagas, or Muscatels, the finest grade, are prepared by partly cutting through the stalks of the grape bunches and allowing them to dry as far as possible on the vine. Valencias are dried after being taken from the vine, either in the sun or in ovens. In both cases the fruit is next dipped in an alkali solution, which slightly cracks the skins, and then washed, laid on benches to drain and dried in the sun ( when possible) for two weeks. The raisins are then ready for packing—in casks, boxes, cartons, etc. They vary in quality from the best "cluster" and "layer" to the cheapest "loose" raisins. "Layer raisins" are those of fine quality, packed in bunches between sheets of paper. "Cluster" signifies "bunch." Lexias is a term sometimes applied to raisins more suitable for cooking than dessert use.
Sultana Raisins, or "Sultanas" as they are generally styled, are small, oval, naturally entirely seedless, and, in the best grades, of a pale yellow transparent tint. They come from Smyrna, but there seems to be no essential difference between the vine which yields them and the ordinary grapevine—the special characteristic of seedless Hess may have been produced by exceptional circumstances of soil and climate, leading to partly abortive flowers.
Corinthian Raisins is another name for CURRANTS (which see).
Both the Layer and Seeded are made from Muscatel grapes. The clusters are cut from the vines when thoroughly ripe and placed on wooden trays in the vineyard, as shown in the accompanying illustration. When they have wilted sufficiently, an
empty tray is placed over the full tray and by a quick movement their positions are reversed, so that when the top tray is removed the "raw" under-sides of the clusters are exposed to the sun. After the completion of the drying process, the raisins are dumped into "sweat boxes," holding about 150 pounds each, and are thus delivered to the packing house.
One of the next steps is the sorting. The finest "clusters" are packed in 5, 10 and 20-pound boxes, but the greater part of the crop is stemmed, seeded and packed in 1-pound cartons.
The first "stemmer," which resembles an old-fashioned threshing machine, re moves the large stems. Then the "cap-stemmer" removes the small cap-stems still adhering. The fruit is next graded in sizes known to the trade as 2, 3 and 4 "crown" and goes to the "seeder," in which rubber or similar surfaced, rollers flatten it and press the seeds to the surface, where they are caught and removed by the teeth or needles of the impaling rollers. The seeds are removed from the rollers by a "flick ing" or "whispering" device, and are passed to a receptacle to be sold as a by-product which is increasingly important.
California Seedless Raisins are of two kinds—Seedless Muscatels, a small percent age of the muscatel crop, and Thompson Seedless, corresponding to the imported Sul tanas. Thompson seedless raisins are prepared by dipping the grapes before drying in an alkali solution to which is added saponified olive oil, and by sulphuring. The result is an attractive product of light color and fine flavor.
The domestic raisin product amounts to about 65,000 tons annually.