Sultana Growing

Red Cliffs was established as a farm settlement, with sultanas predominately grown to be dried.  This was the main horticultural occupation of Red Cliffs up until the 1990’s, when the area shifted to producing wine due to a change in profitability.

The vines are grown in rows on a trellis and until the late 1990’s were watered with 6 main irrigations on a rostered basis through out the summer months (5 pre and 1 post harvest).  Depending on the growing season, the fruit would be ripe in mid February when it would be picked, dipped in a solution to hasten the drying and then put onto racks to dry.  With the heat of the sun, the moisture is removed through the fine cracks in the skin. When sufficiently dry, the racks are shaken, and the fruit put out on long sisalcraft and hessian sheets to even up it’s colour and to complete the drying process.

drying racks

The drying racks are prepared by placing a layer of hessian on the bottom tier, to catch any berries that fall off the bunches. © Elizabeth Janson

 

When complete, the dried fruit would be put into sweat boxes, shallow wooden boxes which hold approx. 70 kgs.  This would be the final on-farm opportunity for the dried berries to become even in their moisture content. The boxes were used to transport the fruit to be processed and packed.  The more even in colour and texture the fruit, the better the grade and financial return.

For more information about growing sultanas in this area go to: http://www.driedfruitsaustralia.org.au/from-vine-to-plate

2 thoughts on “Sultana Growing

    • Hi Adrian,
      In reply to your query:
      From what I can see we do not have any photos of hot dipping in our collection at the Historical Society.  
      Hot dipping was not only done with gordos when Red Cliffs began. Prior to 1920’s most grapes for drying were hot dipped.  This process was continued with the larger grapes (generally Gordos & Walthams) that became raisins.
      If you are looking for an image of this, there is one on the ‘Lost Mildura’ facebook site.  If you would like to share one that is taken on a Red Cliffs property we would be pleased to receive it.
      Thanks for your messages.Chris.

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