Sultana is the main dried grape variety grown in Australia. Sweet and golden, sultanas are harvested early in the season, with the process starting mid-February.
The variety originated from the Iranian town of Soultanleh, from which it gets its name. It found its way to Australia in 1867.
Sultanas are known as raisins in the USA.
Currants dry quickly in the sun due to their small size and are usually the first grape to be picked when harvest begins.
They have a tangy flavour and are darker than sultanas and raisins.
The variety was cultivated in Greece near the city of Corinth, from which it derives its name.
In Australia, the main grape variety used in raisin production is muscat gordo blanco. It is larger than other varieties grown for drying and has a muscat flavour. Raisins are harvested towards the end of the season and have a seed that is removed during processing.
One of the oldest-known dried fruits, raisins have been enjoyed since ancient times. The name derives from the Latin racemus, which means ‘a cluster of grapes or berries’.
Growers are planting grape varieties that are more rain tolerant, produce higher yields, and have greater market demand.
The most popular new varieties are Sunmuscat and Sunglo, which were first imported into Australia by the CSIRO in the 1970s.
Wine and table grape varieties are also dried from time to time.