We aren’t sure about you, but we love nothing more than the first crunch into an ice cold, juicy table grape. It’s a classic berry; yep you heard right – a berry that will never go out of style. We often hear the term “grape” thrown around, but it’s important to consider what types of grapes are being spoken of. Are we talking about table grapes, wine grapes, raisin bound grapes, champagne grapes, cotton candy grapes, concord grapes…? And the list goes on. Grapes aren’t a fruit to simply bunch together as a whole – pun intended. Grapes are…just grapes, right? Not necessarily. To the trained eye, the world of grapes is pure science, and rightly so. For example, the difference between table grapes (our forte) and wine grapes are two different worlds. For instance, wine grapes are much smaller than table grapes and have many seeds. And the list of differences goes on and on. The agricultural world of knowledge behind grapes alone is astonishing.
Surely you’ve known about grapes since you were a wee one. That’s because these little guys go back in time for thousands of years, originating in the Middle East by trade. With over 85 selections grown, California grapes come in 3 colors – red, green (white), and black. Throughout the 2017 season, California table grape farmers gathered over 109 million boxes of grapes, sending them to more than 55 countries around the world, at a plant value of $1.81 billion.
Today in the United States, grapes are considered the SIXTH largest crop, which in all honesty, doesn’t come as much of a surprise due to the sheer volume and varieties available. Every single one of the fifty states produce this fruit, while California, Washington and New York are the frontrunners. California table grapes are grown in two locations: Coachella Valley and the San Joaquin Valley. These valleys supply the optimal growing conditions for grapes of the most exceptional quality for the summer and fall months. The U.S. imports table grapes from Mexico and Chile in the winter and spring months when California grapes are not available.
Regarding health benefits, grapes are one of the simplest and easiest treats to grab much of your daily intake of manganese, copper, and antioxidants. Grapes are high in Vitamin C, low in sodium, free of fat and cholesterol, and packed with phytonutrients (plant chemicals) that have been revealed to reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease and also embolism while enhancing capillary function and lowering high blood pressure. Human research studies have shown that consuming a selection of grapes could help promote a healthy and balanced heart by promoting the leisure of capillaries to preserve healthy blood circulation. Other studies suggest that grapes influence various other elements of heart health and wellness. The nutrients in grapes could aid against cancer, eye issues, cardio illness, and other health conditions. This is yet another commodity that can be consumed raw or cultivated into all kinds of recipes and jams. The real beauty is the versatility of grapes as far as we are concerned.
So what should the consumer look for when selecting grapes on their weekly grocery run? Furthermore, how are these little guys best stored for long lasting flavor? You want to make sure you are selecting a bundle of grapes with green stems, plush berries and with that slight white powdery coating. That coating is actually a naturally forming substance that protects the grapes to maintain their freshness. Not to fear – that little coating is something we love to see! You want to get the most shelf life out of your newly purchased bundle of grapes – and so do we. To do so, it’s highly recommended to always keep them refrigerated to last longer – and make sure you don’t wash them before putting them in. Holding off on the washing of the berries and getting wet until right before consumption can help greatly in terms of shelf life.
Okay, okay – so you get the idea of why we love grapes so much. It’s time to share with you a few different ways to enjoy these bundles of berries, some of which you may not have ever thought of!
- Frozen Grapes: This one seems pretty straight forward, but is often forgotten about! Make sure to pop them off the stem, wash and dry them and put them in a container in the freezer. Pull a few out at anytime to nibble on throughout a hot day, throw a few frozen grapes into your drink of choice, perhaps even set some frozen grapes out on the kitchen table as an after school or study break snack.
- Roasted Grapes – sound funky? Try it and then be the judge. Toss the berries with oil, salt, pepper and pop them into the oven for about 30 minutes at 425°. You can incorporate these roasted sweet things just about any way you desire. Use them in a salad, on their own, add them to a cheese plate. Change. It. Up!
- Grape Salsa – Sound weird? It’s not! Just stick with your same go-to salsa recipe and add minced grapes in the mix for an added touch of sweetness. It won’t taste out of place!
- Salad Dressing – Yep! You can create a simple homemade dressing in no time. Blend minced grapes with an oil of your choice, seasonings such as salt and pepper, a dash of lemon, some balsamic vinegar and you are on your way to personalizing and creating your own bottled dressing!
There you have it. A brief overview of why this commodity is one we supply year round and thoroughly enjoy doing so. We love being an integral part of connecting fruit with so much history and versatility to those who love and appreciate these fresh berries as much as we do. As long as grapes are around, we sure hope to be as well. Given the history we just discussed – we are confident that the time frame is ever existent!
Western Veg-Produce, Inc.
PO Box 82217
Bakersfield, CA 93380
Office: 1-800-WVegPro (983-4776)