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An Ever-Popular Snack
The combination of crunchy texture and dry, sweet, tart flavor has made grapes an ever popular between meal snack as well as a refreshing addition to both fruit and vegetable salads. American varieties are available in September and October while European varieties are available year round.
Grapes contain beneficial compounds called flavonoids, which are phytonutrients that give the vibrant purple color to grapes, grape juice and red wine; the stronger the color, the higher the concentration of flavonoids.
- Ancient Egyptian tomb paintings dating to 2440 B.C.E. Portray Egyptians cultivating grapes.
- Grapevines generally bear between fifteen and eighty pounds of grapes every year for up to one hundred years.
- A cluster of grapes yields between six and three hundred berries.
- Birds tend to peck unprotected grapes. The damaged grapes then tend to attract bees and wasps.
- Nearly 80 percent of the grapes harvested in the world are used to make wine.
The Three Main Species of Grapes
- European grapes (Vitis vinifera):
Varieties include Thompson (seedless and amber-green in color), Emperor (seeded and purple in color) and Champagne/Black Corinth (tiny in size and purple in color). European varieties feature skins that adhere closely to their flesh.
- North American grapes (Vitis labrusca and Vitis rotundifolia):
Varieties include Concord (blue-black in color and large in size), Delaware (pink-red in color with a tender skin) and Niagara (amber colored and less sweet than other varieties). North American varieties feature skins that more easily slip away from their flesh.
- French hybrids: These were developed from the vinifera grapes after the majority of grape varieties were destroyed in Europe in the 19th century.
Grapes should be plump and firmly attached to a green stem. Good color for type of grape, not faded. Grapes do not ripen off the vine, so be certain that they are ripe when chosen. Buy a small quantity and taste. When refrigerated, grapes will last five to seven days.
All grapes are really berries and are native to Asia Minor where they were cultivated for 6000 years. Grapes are now grown on six continents.
California produces 97 percent and Arizona produces 3 percent of all European varieties grown in the United States.
Try to use seedless grapes in your recipes whenever possible. You will find them much more pleasant to eat.
Safety: If you are drinking grape juice for health benefits, avoid products labeled as grape “drinks.” This is often an imitation high-sugar product with little real grape juice.
Quick Serving Ideas for Grapes:
- Serve stewed and spiced grapes with poached chicken breast for a light and healthy entree.
- Grapes are a wonderful addition to any fruit salad. For an enhanced visual effect, consider using a few different varieties of grapes.
- Give your curries a fruity punch by including fresh grapes in the recipe.
- Add grapes to mixed green salads.
- Grapes are great served with cheese as a snack or within a green salad.
Those Sour Grapes!
The phrase “sour grapes”, meaning a show of disdain for something you cannot have, originated from Aesop’s fable, “The Fox and the Grapes”. In the fable, a fox was unable to reach a bunch of grapes and says, “I am sure the grapes are sour“.
- Black Beauty: The only seedless black grape.
- Calmeria: Large dark red grapes with a light gray finish. Has very few seeds.
- Champagne: Used to make currents. Usually a gourmet product.
- Concord: Major variety of American grape. Blue/black with a sweet but somewhat tart flavor.
- Delaware: Small pink colored grape with a tender skin.
- Emperor: One of the most popular small grape. Reddish/purple in color and seedless.
- Exotic: Blue/black in color and have seeds.
- Flame Seedless: Deep red and seedless. About the same size as the Emperor but somewhat more tart.
- Italia: Muscat, mainly for wine making. Green/gold grape with seeds.
- Niagara: Large amber colored grape, may be somewhat egg shaped. Not as sweet as most other varieties.
- Perlette Seedless: Green grape imported from Mexico.
- Queen: Red, large grape that has a mild sweet flavor.
- Red Globe: Very large grape with large seeds and a delicate flavor.
- Red Malaga: Thick skinned reddish somewhat sweet grape.
- Ribier: Large blue-black grape with tender skins.
- Ruby Seedless: Deep red grape, very sweet.
- Steuben: A blue black grape similar to the Concord.
- Thompson Seedless: Everybody’s favorite. The most common grape sold in the United States. Small green sweet grape. Common raisin grape.
- Tokay: Sweeter version of the Flame Seedless.
Grape Variety Images
More grape variety information, including grapes on the vine and grapes commonly used dried.
Read More: Food Facts