A relatively new entry into the food landscape, the first…
Raisins — dried grapes — seem silly and inconsequential. However, I had no idea what they go through to become the shrivelled little morsels. The process of fresh fruit to raisin makes them big business. Just think of grapes and the wine industry; and raisins are similarly important as a food stuff.
After California, Australia is the world’s largest producer of raisins, including lexia grapes, or Muscat of Alexandria (pictured above). The muscat grape is a very old variety, likely making an appearance in the Old Testament and having been a favourite of the ancient Greeks and Romans. While not widely used in wine-making, it might be recognizable as part of Italian Moscato d’Asti sparkling wine. One of its unique qualities is that it often produces wine that smells and tastes like grapes more than others. Versions of the grape remain an important fruit in South African and Australian wine-making, where, in the latter country, Wombat Creek Winery makes a line of fruity lexia wines.
As for raisins, I was surprised to learn that grapes are treated quite roughly in the raisin process. For instance, Thompson grapes become golden by being dipped in lye, exposed to fumes of burning sulfur for two to four hours, and then dried in a tunnel dehydrator. Who knew? Poor little guys.
Regardless, lexia raisins are excellent eating raisins and are available at Bulk Barn.