Not only are grapes a healthy snack, they add zest to fresh fruit salads, tarts, and homemade preserves. There are many grape types, including hybrids, but with two overall distinctions: European (Vitis vinifera) and American (Vinis labrusca).
Like other berries, grapes can range through several levels of sweet to tart. Those sold in bunches in produce sections tend to be sweet and would not do well for winemaking. Grapes that are grown for fermenting are typically much too tangy for snacking.
European grapes are available year-round, but U.S. species will peak early summer through fall. Within these two groups, there are thousands of varieties, but whether red or white, they’re classified as seedless or seeded and as “table” (sold whole), “wine” (for fermenting), and “commercial” (for raisins, juices, and jellies).
Red grapes also encompass black, purple, and blue shades. These include such familiar names as Concord, Muscat, Globe, Ruby, and Emperor.
The Thompson seedless is a popular white – or green – grape sold for public consumption and is also typically used to make raisins. Other species include Princess and Perlette.
Grapes are fragile and easily bruised. Select those with firm unbroken skins and a “blush,” or light powder coating. They should not be sticky. It is difficult, however, to avoid an entire bunch without a few that are mushy. Berries should not break easily from the stems.
Once plucked from the vine, ripening stops and taste will not improve.
Refrigerate unwashed, with stems intact, and use within two weeks. Grapes freeze well – for up to two months – and make a terrific frozen snack. De-stem, wash, and keep in a single layer until hard. When thawed, they remain firm.
• To remove the skin, freeze first. Use a sharp knife to make a slit on the side.
• Chop and add to a chicken or
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