Summer Royal grape: sensational quality, virus, raisins

fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TXAugust 2, 2010

Just took out the Summer Royal grape in my greenhouse. It was infected with leaf roll virus. As a result the fruit wasn't as good as other years. But this virus is kinda strange in that some berries are fine while others are tart. You can tell by looking at the berry. Good ones are dark and firm. Bad are light color and soft. The vine has been infected for years but this is the first real damage.

I dried the best fruit and ended up with 12 lbs of the best raisins money can't buy. When right this is the best grape/raisin I've ever eaten.

I'm getting new plants this winter. Will try Summer Royal, Princess, Autumn Royal, Crimson, and Muscat of Alexandria. All seedless except the later. Getting them from a local nursery thru L E Cooke. Will hope that the new ones are virus free. Leaf roll virus is widespread and severely damaging in WA, CA, and I'm sure many other places.

Am going to try them in pots. Vigor of in-ground vines has been excessive.

Summer Royal is becoming more widely available. Give it a try if you can. They say hardy to zone 7. A friends plants took 10F many times this winter here.

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myk1(5 IL)

12lbs! How many was that fresh?
When I dried cherries I think I did over 6 quarts and only got one small tub.
What do you dry them in to handle that many?

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 9:06AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


That was probably about 50 lbs fresh all from one vine with serious virus issues. I've dried them in a dehydrator and in the sun. Also with and without Fruit-Fresh. They dry fine by all methods and even retain good color. For faster drying I make a cut in the tip end of fruit about half way through. Then pull the berry off the stem causing as much damage as possible without mushing. This is to break the skin for faster drying. Takes about 30 hrs to 4 days depending on method. Final product is about the same.

If anyone wants to see the grapes I listed above and others like Himrod go to the L E Cooke website. Pull up the seedless grape section. They have pictures and descriptions. Only thing I would disagree with is their description of Summer Royal as having neutral flavor. It's a very highly flavored grape for me, both fresh and dried. The raisins are so potently sweet and highly flavored even I can't eat too many at one setting. I get them out for cooking and decide they are just too good to waste on cooking.

The virus is identified by reddish, fall-like, leaf colors mainly on leaf margins in red grapes this time of year. Green grapes and less highly colored types just have bleached out leaf margins that are showing up strongly on my Crimson now. When severe enough or under some conditions fruit quality suffers.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 10:03AM
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myk1(5 IL)

Wow, 50lbs off one vine.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 11:27AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

I've left more fruit in the past with high quality. The area covered is 6ft wide by 16 ft long and the trellis is 8 ft tall. If you figure it out that's about 10 tons per acre which is a high grape yield.

I grew Glenora in the greenhouse for two crops. It had the best fruit quality of any hardy seedless I tried outdoors in Amarillo. Yields were very low in both locations and quality not nearly as good as Summer Royal. So I haven't grown the hardy types much. Glenora froze back nearly to the ground several years with zero to -5F temperatures.

My favorite hardy seedless in Amarillo for yield, hardiness and eating was Canadice. But it's not as good eating as many of the California varieties.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 12:22PM
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I would like to hear how you go about drying the grapes in the dehydrator. I made two gallons this year and it took one week. My method is very tme consuming. I do not separate the grapes by size, I use the large and small grapes all on the same tray in the dehydrators. Therefore, the drying time various. I check the dehydrator about every 5 hours, including during the night. I remove the ones that have dried into raisins, switch the trays around as is needed. This takes some time as each raisin has to be identified and picked out of hundreds. Even if I went with the same size grape, I expect it still would be time consuming. The moisture content would be different for each grape, as well as the position it occupies on the tray and location in the dehydrator. I have tried the blanching method to crack the skin on the grapes, but have found it is not worth the extra step. Blanching is supposed to make drying faster.

I have tried drying outside, but it is far too humid here in my climate.

At times I had two dehydrators going. I have a Nesco and Excalibur dehydrator. Even though the Nesco is inexpensive compared to the Excalibur, it does a nice job of drying.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 6:18PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


I really haven't found drying the grapes that hard. Of course my size varies a lot as well. I do try to cut into the big berries more than the little. And maybe not even cut into the smallest ones at all just pull them off the stem.

Like you I don't like them too dry and hard so stop when they are still soft. I find it best to stop and let them cool off before making the final decision. Then it helps some to put them in a plastic bag and let them set at room temperature. This helps the moisture equalize within each berry and between berries.

I'm very pleased with this batch. Moist and chewy without any berries tasting half dried.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 6:42PM
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I agree, you need to let them cool some before making the final selection. I may try separating the larger ones and treat just them to facilitate quicker drying.

Thanks for sharing your method.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2010 at 8:07AM
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