May 5, 2015
It is the unmistakable smell and taste of the royal show and school fetes – the silky, sticky, sugary concoction of childhood memories… and rotten baby teeth.
Up until now, the air-spun sugary treat fairy floss (or cotton candy) has had limited redeeming features for health conscious parents – outside of its delirium-inducing sweet flavour – but that’s all about to change.
Almost as if dreamt up by Willy Wonka himself, a new Cotton Candy grape variety, which tastes like fairy floss, is about to solve lunchbox dilemmas for parents all over Australia.
Having already taken the US by storm, this delightfully delicious table grape might have 12 percent more sugar than regular grapes (but far less sugar and carbs than sultanas) but it punches well above its weight in terms of flavour.
With very little tartness, the grape lingers on the palate with hints of vanilla and a confectionary sweetness that creates a flavour remarkably reminiscent of fairy floss.
David Cain, a California-based breeder from International Fruit Genetics (IFG), created the Cotton Candy grapes unintentionally, while crossbreeding his favourite species, the Concord (a dark-purple berry packed with exotic flavours), with the very average, yet dependable, table species Vitis vinifera, most commonly used in winemaking.
The Yalumba Vine Nursery, under the management of viticulturist Nick Dry, has been providing wine grape planting material to Australian vignerons since 1975.
After signing a distribution agreement with IFG in 2009, the Yalumba Nursery was the first Australian distributor to “cotton on” to the new fairy floss flavoured grape.
“Since signing our distribution agreement with IFG we have imported 12 new table grape varieties, including Cotton Candy, which we started supplying to growers in 2012,” Nick said.
“We have now distributed semi-commercial plantings of the variety to a number of growers throughout Australia, and expect to see commercial Cotton Candy grapes coming from those vines in 2017.
“The variety has really taken off in the US and I’m sure once we get to the commercial supply stage it will do the same here – it’s the only variety of its kind and is a great way to encourage kids to eat more fruit.”