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How Cotton Candy Grapes Are Made

grapes.jpg
Not cotton candy grapes, but a fruit engineer probably had a hand in these, too. (Photo by Firooz Taheri on Flickr)
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Ever wondered how those adorable Cuties became so darn addictive? Or why pluots are just so perfect? Well, it's no accident. There are fruit engineers behind it all. These experts specialize in cross-breeding techniques that are centuries old.

One such engineer in Kern County named David Cain is hoping his cotton candy grapes will make it big. The bite sized fruits are said to taste like carnival candy, but they look quite different than your average table grape. Instead of being round, they're more of a mini-banana shape.

The idea of these hybridized fruits might sound a little bit freaky, but this is quite different than the GMOs that people are so skeeved out by. In the case of grapes, pollen from male grape flowers is extracted and then carefully brushed onto the female clusters of the target plant. Then comes a lot of waiting, replanting, and repeating until it's all just right.

But all that work isn't for naught.

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Says the Times:

Cain's company, in the heart of California's $1.1-billion table grape industry, specializes in bold flavors and exotic shapes. Purple-hued Funny Fingers are long and thin like chili peppers. A variety named Sweet Sapphire come as round and fat as D batteries. Like the Cotton Candy, the special varieties are patented, then licensed to growers. The Funny Fingers are marketed as Witch Fingers and are available at high-end supermarkets. The Cotton Candy will be available this month. Ordinary grapes like the red Flame Seedless can cost as little as 88 cents a pound. The Cotton Candy could fetch around $6 a pound, though prices would come down if enough growers cultivate the grape.

Much like a talent scout looking for the next "big thing," Cain is constantly developing new combinations. But the problem is that they often take up to 15 years or more to mature.

So there are naturally high hopes that this cotton candy grape will take off. We can't wait to try them. It's certainly a lot healthier than a trip to the county fair.