An edible berry that grows in clusters on small shrubs or climbing vines. There are thousands of varieties of grapes grown throughout the world, but all these varieties can be classified as either European or American. European grapes have tight skins that adhere to the fruit while American varieties have loose skin (slip-skin) that easily slips from the fruit when cut or bitten. Grapes can also be classified as seedless or with seeds, or according to use: wine (cabernet or riesling); table (thompson seedless or riber); or commercial food production (muscat grapes for raisins, zante grapes for currants and concord grapes for juice, jam, jelly). Table grapes are divided into color categories of white or black (also referred to as red). White varieties range in color from pale yellow-green to light green. Black grapes are light red to purple-black. Wine grapes have a high acidity and are too tart for general eating. Table grapes (low acid) would make dull, bland wines. The average person eats eight pounds of grapes a year, and the best selling grape in the U.S. is the Thompson Seedless. Concord grapes are one of only three fruits native to North America (the other two are cranberries and wild blueberries). Spanish explorers introduced European grapes to America approximately 300 years ago.
Season: available year-round
How to select: Choose grapes that are plump, full-colored and firmly attached to their stems. White (or green) grapes should have a slight pale yellow hue, a sign of ripeness. Dark grapes should be deeply colored with no sign of green.
How to store: Keep, unwashed, in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to one week.
How to prepare: Wash before eating. Grapes shold be served at about 60F, so it's best to remove them from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving.
Matches well with: brandy, brown sugar, cheese, lemon, melon, mint, raspberries, sour cream, strawberries, walnuts, wine