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Remember when: Grapes with seeds

Selma’s Maxine Clark recalls when grapes still had seeds. Her mother would painstakingly cut them out so her family could enjoy seedless rice pudding.

Grapes are delicious, but after biting into one, you had to spit out the seeds. When grapes are dried, they become raisins, so raisins had seeds, too. Raisins are what you put in rice pudding, and oatmeal, and mincemeat pie - or just eat them.

One sunny day, in my long ago childhood, my mother decided to make rice pudding for supper. Our version of rice pudding was to cook pearl rice according to directions, add raisins, and eat the pudding warm with milk and sugar.

Mama stood by the sink for a long time.

“What are you doing, Mama?” I asked.

“I’m cutting seeds out of the raisins so you can enjoy your rice pudding without the seeds in your way.”

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It seems like it took forever to cut the seeds out of almost a whole box of raisins.

We didn’t know about seedless grapes and raisins. In 1872, William Thompson, a Scottish immigrant brought to this country - to California - grape cuttings from Iran or Turkey. He worked with local rootstock and by 1876 was able to produce a 50-pound crop of thin-skinned, sweet, seedless grapes. He shared several cuttings with friends. From those cuttings, more cuttings were shared, and by 1920 the Thompson seedless grape was the preferred raisin variety grape. This was the first commercialized seedless grape, according to Jasmine Vineyards’ “Sticky Raisins to Seedless Grapes: The History of the Table Grape” article.

In the 1930’s, my father discovered boxes of seedless raisins at the store, bought one, and brought it home. The box was from Sun-Maid in Kingsburg. After we sampled one raisin each, Mama hid the box where the boys wouldn’t find it.

“Wow!” I said. “Somebody sure went to a lot of trouble to take the seeds out of all those raisins.”

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