Grapes are a popular fruit in my household, as they’re easy for my kids to snack on. Thanks to many seedless varieties, they don’t require any peeling or slicing, they’re not messy, and they’re deliciously sweet. Illinois grapes are available July through October. Unlike many other fruits, grapes will not continue to ripen once picked so you should harvest them when plump and juicy. If you’re not consuming local grapes, chances are your grapes were grown in California, the top grape producing state in the U.S.
Technically speaking, grapes are a berry and grown on a vine, which takes several years to produce quality fruit. Grapes generally come in three colors: green, red and black. There are many varieties of grapes, grown for their specific purpose. One of the most well-known variety, Concord, is primarily used to make grape juice and jelly. Others may be grown for a certain type of wine, and recently we have seen snacking grapes that are said to taste like cotton candy!
Store grapes in the refrigerator in a perforated plastic bag. They’ll keep for approximately two weeks. Wash under cool running water just before use. Besides eating fresh or frozen grapes as a snack, add them to green leafy salads, meat salads or fruit salads! You can even roast, sauté or grill grapes to accompany various vegetable and meat dishes. Of course, if you have a lot of grapes, use them to make jam or jelly or dehydrate them into raisins. One cup of grapes is only 62 calories and contains vitamin C and small amounts of potassium. New varieties of grapes allow harvest to expand beyond the typical growing season, giving you grapes all year round!
Kale Salad with Grapes, Pecans and Feta
5 cups chopped kale, stems removed
1 cup red grapes, halved
¼ cup chopped pecans, toasted
¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Place kale in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk all ingredients for the dressing. Pour dressing over kale and using clean hands, massage the dressing into the kale (to help soften the kale). Toss with grapes, pecans and feta cheese prior to serving.
Yield: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving): 170 calories, 14 grams fat, 190 milligrams sodium, 12 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 3 grams protein
Barbara Drake, Ohio State University Extension, Selecting, Storing, and Serving Ohio Grapes, https://ohioline.osu.edu/
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Grapes: www.usda.gov