Grapes Have Many Pleasing Personalities

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grapes


Frozen grapes are the perfect chilled snack on a hot summer day. Everyone remembers grapes from their childhood, almost as if they were a rite of passage. You have your favorite, either red or green and those little balls of sweet flavor can bring back memories of days long gone with one simple bite. Let's take a look at some of the fantastic reasons why you should continue consuming grapes today.

What is It?

While most grapes come from the same family and genus of plant, there are about sixty different species of this plant type with literally thousands of variables. Table grape varieties, the ones you most often eat, are larger in size, have been propagated to be seedless, and have relatively thin skins. Wine grapes, on the other hand, are usually smaller in size, contain seeds, and have relatively thick skins.

While we often think about the Mediterranean when we envision grape vines, this amazing food is actually native to many parts of the world, including regions in Asia, Africa, and North America. From a commercial standpoint, grapes from around the world have now been hybridized to produce unique blends of flavor, texture, and environmental suitability. Worldwide there are 150 trillion pounds of grapes produced each year. Grape production comes from five major countries - Italy, China, Spain, France and the U.S.

History

Grapes have a long and abundant history. While they've grown wild since prehistoric times, evidence suggests they were domesticated in Asia around 5000 BC. Grapes were also pictured in ancient Egyptian burial tomb hieroglyphics. During the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations, grapes were revered for their use in the production of wine. They were planted in the Rhine Valley in Germany, a place of notable wine production, in the 2nd century AD. Today there are thousands of varietals of grapes that we know about, both cultivated and wild. In the United States, California reigns as the grape producing state. However, during the winter months, the US imports their grapes from South America and Chili.

Health Benefits

Grapes have long been classified as a low glycemic index food, with values ranging between 43-53. Better blood sugar balance, better insulin regulation, and increased insulin sensitivity have now been connected with intake of grape juices, grape extracts, and individual phytonutrients found in grapes. One cup of grapes will give you over a quarter of your daily requirement for vitamin C. The elusive vitamin K is also high in grapes. Grapes also contain the hormone and antioxidant melatonin, as well as elements that have anti-bacterial properties. Combine grapes with a complete protein amino-acid source for a very nutritious dish. Many weight conscious people swear by nibbling on grapes to satisfy the urge to snack while providing hydration and nutrients.

Fun Fact

It has been long believed that grapes have healing properties. Before scientific research backed up the disease-fighting properties of grapes, ancient China healers mixed grape wine with snakes and frogs to cure illnesses and diseases. Truth is, they probably could have left out the critters and gotten the same cures. Grapes are about 80% water, which explains why it is so satisfying as a low-calorie snack or dessert.

How to Eat

This is one fruit that you would do well to buy in the organic section of the grocery store. In 2011 a study was done that found conventionally grown grapes to be one of the most problematic fruits and vegetables in terms of pesticide residues. When you consider that it's estimated that in the United States we each eat 8 pounds of grapes a year, that's a lot of pesticides to be concerned about.

For the best tasting grapes with high concentrations of antioxidants select those that are fully ripe, which means they should be plump and free of wrinkles. Since grapes tend to spoil and ferment at room temperature, they should always be stored in the refrigerator. While freezing detracts from some of their flavor, frozen grapes are a wonderful snack and particularly intriguing to children. To freeze grapes, wash and pat them dry, then arrange in a single layer on a cookie sheet and place in freezer.

Grapes are more than an easy go-to snack. We now know that grapes belong at every course of a meal. Use grapes in salads, salsas, and sandwiches. Cook them, freeze them, or eat them right off the vine. Oh, and don't forget the raisins, and the wine! The versatile grape deserves your attention.

 

Grapes Recipes

 

White Grape Sherbet

1 tbsp granulated gelatin
2 tbsp cold water
1/4 cup honey
2 cups white grape juice, divided
1 pint thin cream

Put gelatin and water in a bowl and let stand for 10 minutes.
Put honey and 1/2 cup grape juice in a small saucepan and add gelatin mixture, stirring and heating over low heat until gelatin is completely dissolved; remove from heat. Add remaining grape juice, stir and put in refrigerator to chill.
Use an ice cream machine and process until mixture becomes a slushy consistency, then add the cream and continue freezing until completely set.
If you don't have an ice cream machine, transfer the mixture to a shallow, metal pan (like a baking pan) and put in your freezer for several hours, removing a couple times as it freezes and stirring until mixture becomes slushy. Then stir in cream and repeat several times more, freeze, stir, freeze, stir, until you can't stir it anymore because it's gotten solid.

 

Rosemary Kissed Kiwi Grape Granny Salad

1/4 cup sugar
3 or 4 fresh sprigs of rosemary
3 kiwi, peeled and diced
2 Granny Smith green apples, cored and cut into small cubes
1 cup seedless green grapes, cut in half if desired

Combine sugar and 1/2 cup water in a saucepan over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil, stirring gently to dissolve sugar.
Add rosemary sprigs, reduce heat to medium and cook for an additional 15 minutes.
Remove rosemary sprigs and discard, then bring the heat up to high and bring mixture to a boil, cooking and stirring until liquid is reduced to about 1/3 cup. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
Put apples, grapes, and kiwi in a bowl and pour the syrup over them, tossing to coat the fruit evenly.
Serves 4.

 

Classic Chicken Curry And Green Grape Salad

1 tablespoon lemon juice  
6 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 cups cooked chicken, diced
1 1/2 cup celery, sliced thin
1 cup green seedless grapes
3 tablespoon slivered almonds, toasted
lettuce of your choice

In a large salad bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, mayonnaise, curry powder, salt, and pepper.
Add the the bowl the chicken, celery, and grapes, and toss to coat well.
Cover bowl and chill before serving.
To serve, place lettuce on salad plates, spoon chicken salad over, then garnish with slivered almonds.
Makes six servings.

 

Homemade Concord Grape Pie

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons shortening
5 1/2 tablespoon butter
ice water
4 cups concord grapes
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoon cornstarch

Crust:  Combine flour and salt, then cut in shortening and butter with pastry blender.
Add ice water to just hold dough together, then divide dough in half and roll out for top and bottom crusts.

Filling: Skin grapes by pinching skins and sliding insides into a bowl (keep skins separate and set aside.) 
Put the grapes and seeds from the bowl into a large saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring, until seeds separate from pulp, then strain mixture to remove seeds and discard seeds.
Mix together the grape pulp, the juice, and skins with cornstarch and sugar.

Place this mixture in crust and top with another crust. Vent top crust by placing small holes in top.
Place a drip pan under pie pan in oven to catch any boil over.
Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 325 degrees and cook for 10 more minutes or until crust is golden brown and juices are bubbly. Cool and serve alone or with ice cream.

 

Apple & Grape Salad

2 c Apples; cubed
1 c Grapes; halved
1/2 c Celery; chopped
1/4 c Walnuts; chopped
1 ts Lemon juice
1/3 c Sour cream
1/3 c Plain yogurt

In large bowl, combine apples, grapes, celery, walnuts and lemon juice. Mix yogurt and sour cream. Mix lightly into fruit mix. Refrigerate. If desired, serve on lettuce lined plates.