The Old Drying Racks

Terry Marter

Renmark, Australia

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Artist's Description

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The old racks were usually built running North-South for more even sun-exposure and consisted of layers of tightly stretched chicken wire onto which bunches of heavy, juice-laden Sultana grapes (and Currants) were packed and left to dry in the sun. As they dried they shrivelled, after which the workers would shake the wire vigorously, causing the dried fruit to fall through onto hessian bags ready for collection.

The drying process would take four to five weeks but the later development of a pre-dipping oil reduced drying times to under two weeks. The combination of the special oil and shorter times also had other benefits which meant the end of the darker (& tougher) Sultanas and resulted in the soft golden product that we enjoy today.

This region (where I live) on the River Murray in South Australia is known as the Riverland and is probably Australia’s largest grape growing area with last year’s (2008) harvest producing well over 300,000 tonnes, – the vast majority of course going to wine production.

Here endeth the lesson.

Artwork Comments

  • Gary Gurr
  • Terry Marter
  • Dave  Hartley
  • Terry Marter
  • barwill
  • Terry Marter
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