Grapes are like nature’s candy. So sweet, so satisfying and really not too many calories—62 per cup to be exact. Plus, if you’ve ever tucked them in the freezer and then popped one in your mouth on a hot day, you know they have serious refreshment capacity in so many ways! Although available year round, peak season for grapes is the fall—September for green grapes and October for red. This is when they make their way to many a cheeseboard for tailgating and the start of the entertaining season.
Eat, Drink & Be Merry
Beyond color and whether or not they have seeds, grapes come in both eating and drinking varieties. The grapes you eat at lunch or with hors d'oeuvres are large, sweet, firm and thin-skinned. They are usually seedless and come in red, green and black varieties. Raisins are most often made from dried Thompson Seedless table grapes. Juice grapes, on the other hand, like Concord, have what they call “slip skins” because the skin peels off so easy despite its toughness. These are used to make juice, jam, jelly, etc. And, of course, wine grapes are grown to make wine in all its varietals and blends. These are sweet, thus allowing fermentation, but have seeds and thick skins, which necessitates the crushing and straining of wine grapes. Did you know that one acre of land can produce up to five tons of grapes? That’s a lot of wine!
Choosing & Storing
When selecting grapes, go for plum & firm with healthy, flexible stems. Don’t worry about a little white “bloom” on the skins. This is nature’s way of protecting the fruit and simply washes off. Grapes are best kept in the back of the refrigerator where it is coldest and away from any strong smelling foods like onions or cheese; they tend to absorb aromas/flavors. And most importantly, like mushrooms, don’t wash them until you are ready to eat!
A Grape Source of Nutrition
As mentioned earlier, grapes pack quite a bit of nutritious value for such small globes of goodness: In one cup of grapes you get:
So many to choose from, and they’re all so good. There are actually about 8,000 different varieties of grapes when you include wine grapes, but these are some of our table favorites. Try pairing with the suggested cheeses and you can’t help but serve up a grape snack!*
Cheese Pairings: Salemville® Blue, Stilton and Jarlsberg
Pair with Market District French Brie, Huntsman, Cheddar or Chèvre.
Cheese Pairings: Taleggio and Morbier
*Varieties and availability differ per store.
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