February 10, 2017 10:59 am Leave your thoughts
Sometimes, it’s the stories behind some of our products that really highlight what our business is all about. Last week, hidden away in part of our website, I came across a bit of history about the organic sultanas supplied by Crazy Jack. It’s a really good example of why growing, buying and eating organic matters. (It also clears up that thorny issue of what precisely the difference is between a raisin and a sultana….)
Crazy Jack organic sultanas
Crazy Jack have been buying and selling organic produce since the 1970s. They work with experts, growers and suppliers in the countries from which their products come. In Turkey, they began working with an agronomist who’d graduated from the local college in Izmir. He was, he said, ‘literally laughed at to his face’ when he announced in the 1980s that he wanted to produce sultanas in Turkey organically, without the use of artificial fertilisers or pesticides.
But he persisted. Organic sultanas were grown and the amount, and the quality of the crop, grew steadily each year, thanks to innovative growing techniques and improved cleaning and processing facilities.
What makes organic sultanas different?
For organic sultanas, there’s no artificial ripening. The farmers simply prune the vines to allow light to fall on the fruit and thus increase the sugars in the berries. There’s a smaller ‘berry count’, but the berries have a better size, flavour and sweetness.
For organic sultanas, no artificial growth hormones are permitted. You probably don’t think of dried fruit as containing growth hormones, but in fact, conventional growers are permitted to use these to increase their berry size. Many people have concerns about eating the residues of these hormones and about their impact on the environment, especially when they run off into rivers and the soil.
In organic farming, it’s good husbandry, rather than artificial pesticides, that controls pests. One way this is achieved in the sultana vineyards is by hanging pheromone traps containing the scent of the female species of the pest. The male pests gather in the traps, thus removing them (and their potential offspring) from the pest population. In addition, a diverse bird and insect population is actively sought, ensuring that no particular pest species comes to dominate. Conventional pesticides, on the other hand, simply kill all insects, good and bad.
Raisins and sultanas – what’s the difference?
The perennial question! Raisins and sultanas come from the same white grapes. But sultanas are dried faster than raisins: they’re dipped in a solution of potash that splits the skin of the fruit and helps them dry quickly, giving them a more golden colour, and a more mellow flavour than raisins.
(Potash is a by-product of wood ash. It’s a useful natural fertiliser and is used as such once it’s been washed off the sultanas. The Soil Association permits the use of potash in organic farming and food-processing.)
To see all our organic sultanas, click here.
For all our organic dried fruit, including everything we can get from Crazy Jack, click here.
Tags: crazy jack, organic dried fruit, organic sultanas, raisins
This post was written by Yzanne