There is both romance and convenience wrapped up in these healthy small rounds. They feature semi-translucent flesh encased by a smooth skin. Some contain edible seeds while others are seedless. Like blueberries, a protective, whitish bloom covers grapes. It’s a type of berry that grows in bunches on vines. Imagine a nicely chilled, deliciously succulent grape fresh off the stem, and it’s not hard to see how grapes became so popular that they spread throughout the world – one of our oldest cultivated crops.
Because seedless varieties are convenient and easier to eat, (now 80% of the North American market) are preferred, although seeded varieties such as Concord are said to have a richer, robust flavour.
Most of the flavor inhabits in the skin. The following varieties have different levels of tartness or sweetness and are generally available in the following colours:
Black seedless have a soft skin and very crisp inner meat that is juicy and has a mellow but sweet flavour.
Concord are blue-black in colour with a dusting of silver that have a thicker skin that covers a jelly-like inner meat that can be squeezed out from the skin. This grape provides a tart taste and a distinctive flavour.
Green seedless have a thin skin and provide a sweet, juicy flavour.
Reds have a soft skin with a flesh that provides a semi-sweet to slightly tart flavour.
HOW TO CHOOSE
In the summertime, BC usually imports grapes from California (between May and November), whereas our winter supply comes from Chile (beginning in November) for our winter supply. Early in the growing season grapes tend to be slightly more acidic. The ripening process stops when harvested.
Select fruit that is firm, ripe, clean and not too tightly packed, yet firmly attached to the stem, which itself should be firm and crisp. The grapes should be uniformly shaped; skins intact coloured and have a somewhat chalky bloom, an indication of freshness. Avoid grapes that are mould or mushy-spotted, wrinkled, sticky, dully coloured or have limp stalks.
Keep unwashed grapes refrigerated, as they are ripe when they are picked and warmer temperatures will cause them to wither or ferment. Store in a perforated or open plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 4 or 5 days.
Freezing alters the flavour slightly but makes still makes a creative, low calorie ‘popcycle’. To freeze, separate into individual grapes, wash and pat dry – air dry if needed. Spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet or plate and freeze thoroughly (at least two hours). When frozen, transfer to a suitable airtight freezer container.
For best flavour, remove from refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving. Keep grapes on their stems, washing them only at the last minute before serving, and then blot them dry. If you wash them in water with a bit of lemon juice or vinegar, this will help with preservation as well as balance with the natural sugars in grapes and give them a tangy flavour. When using only a portion of a grape cluster, remove with scissors instead of pulling to prevent prevents the stem from drying out, keeping the remaining grapes fresher.
Some recipes say to peel grapes, but this is rarely necessary. Grape skins contain most of the nutrients and flavour, so they should be used whenever possible.
Seeding Tip Slice the grape in half and scoop out the seeds with the point of a knife.
Not only a popular snack, but a refreshing addition to fruit and vegetable salads, tarts, curries, and jams. Grapes can be crushed as a dessert topping or juiced. Their carefully dried result is raisins.
Frozen individually and rolled in your choice of sugar, they make a refreshing, light dessert at the end of a fondue to prolong the festive experience.
Total Fat: 0.89g
*Excellent source of: Vitamin C (16.6mg)
*Foods that are an “excellent source” of a particular nutrient provide 20% or more of the Recommended Daily Value. Foods that are a “good source” of a particular nutrient provide between 10 and 20% of the Recommended Daily Value.