Thursday, October 7, 2010

Drying Sultanas: Thompson Seedless Grapes

My mother re-married when I was just out of high school, to a man born in Holland who had come to the US as a young lad with his parents and brothers. I can remember my step-father making a fruit/liquor concoction about this time of the year: sultanas, rock crystal candy, and brandy. By Thanksgiving it was yummy, and superb by Christmas. I loved it as a sauce on baked ham! (I wasn't allowed to drink any because I was under 21. Sigh.)

Recently, I finally discovered how to spell the name of it, Boerenjongens, which means Farmer's Son (or lad) in Dutch, and I decided to make a half-batch of it for this holiday season. First I need Sultanas, and here's the process I used to dry them. (I'll post the cordial later.)

Sultanas are (usually) dried Thompson Seedless grapes, and I have some in the dehydrator as I'm writing. To dry these grapes, de-stem and wash the grapes, and discard any with bad spots. Heat a pot of water to boiling, then immerse the grapes in small batches for 30-60 seconds so the skin split. This reduces drying time. Drain, and cool in cold tap water.

Mix a tablespoon of citric acid in 4 cups of cool water and soak the grapes for 10 minutes. This step is optional for this particular use but if I was drying them to store, I'd always soak them to keep the color a bit better. Drain, pat dry and place in a single layer on dehydrator sheets.

Turn the dehydrator temperature to medium (about 140ºF) and let them dry. It may take from 24-48 hours depending on grape size. There were a few grapes where the skins didn't split when I dipped them in boiling water, so I ran the tip of a paring knife through the middle from one side to the other, being careful not to cut the grapes into 2 pieces.

Here's how they came out:

I think they are MUCH nicer than the ones I have purchased in a box!

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