A grape is a fruit that grows on a vine and is of the family Vitaceae. Grapes grow in clusters. There are black, blue, golden, green, purple, red, pink, brown, peach and white grapes. They are cultivated in vineyards and grape cultivation is known as viticulture.
Grapes are generally classified into red, blue and white. White grapes are actually pale green in color. Each colour has its own peculiar characteristics. Grapes require a stable growing environment.
Fossil vines, which are over 60-million-years-old, are the earliest scientific evidence that grapes have been around for a while. The earliest mention of grapes is in the Old Testament of the Bible which mentions that Noah planted a vineyard.
There are more than 60 different varieties of grapes that are cultivated for wine making. For table grapes there are 50 varieties that are being produced today. Grapes were brought to California to make sacramental wine some 200 years ago.
Did You Know?
- To peel grapes, all one need to do is to freeze them and then rinse them under water. The skins will slip off easily!
- A good way to gauge the freshness of grapes is to check their stems. The greener the stem, the fresher the grapes. Grapes should be firmly attached to their stems.
Grapes are of great value as a healing fruit. They are full of glucose, which provides pure energy to the body. Glucose also supplies energy to the heart and strengthens its muscles. Grapes also contain tartaric acid and malic acid. Tartaric acid has a stimulating effect on the intestines.
Rich in antioxidant compounds, red grapes (but not white or green grapes) are high in the antioxidant quercetin. Grape skins contain resveratrol, shown to inhibit blood-platelet clumping (and consequently, blood clot formation) and boost good-type HDL cholesterol. Red grapes are antibacterial and antiviral in test tubes. Grape seed oil also raises good-type cholesterol.
Since most of the beneficial substances that grapes contain lie just under the skin, grapes should be eaten and not consumed as juice. White grapes are richer in vitamins than red and black grapes and are best eaten in the morning while red and black grapes are ideal in the evening. Grapes have a high content of iron, copper and manganese which makes it an excellent producer of haemoglobin. Drinking grape juice once a day helps to prevent secondary anemia.
The high potassium and water content of grapes makes it a diuretic and good for kidney disorders. Grapes also help to stimulate hepatic and glycogenic functions and bile secretion. They contain an element which is similar to insulin, making it useful in certain kinds of diabetes.
According to reports released at an international symposium on prevention of cancer and heart disease, fresh grapes and grape products have the potential to reduce cancer. Grapes also have properties that may help reduce the incidences of breast, colon and liver cancer.
Grapes also have a decalcifying effect.
Selection & Storage
Grapes should be harvested only when fully ripe. They should be ready to eat when you buy them. The colour of the grapes is an important way to check if the grapes are good for eating. Green grapes should have a yellow tinge straw color with a touch of amber. If they are an opaque grassy green color, then they are not fully ripe. Red grapes should be a deep crimson colour, not a pale red. Blue grapes should be almost black, not tinged with green.
Grapes should always be plump. A good way to gauge the freshness of grapes is to check their stems. The greener the stem, the fresher the grapes. Grapes should be firmly attached to their stems. For storing, remove any grapes with broken skins or which are brown. Keep them under refrigeration. Ripe grapes will keep for a week. Remove any spoiled grapes you might find during the storage period. Grapes can also be frozen.
Using and Preserving
Fresh grapes should be stored in a covered plastic container or plastic bag in the refrigerator. Wash grapes before eating under a gentle spray of water. Pat dry.
Table grapes taste best when they are served slightly chilled. Chilling enhances their flavor.
Seedless grapes can be used whole. To remove seeds from the seeded varieties, grapes, cut grapes into half lengthwise and scoop out seeds with the point of the knife.
To store grapes, they can be canned, frozen, made into juice or dried as raisins.
Grapes taste very good in cold salads and combine especially well with chicken, turkey, or tuna salads. Cinnamon is the best spice to use with grapes. They also go well with nuts, especially walnuts and almonds.
A delicious summer salad can be made by adding chilled grapes to a chicken or seafood salad. Serve with crusty bread or rolls.
Clusters of chilled grapes served with different kinds of cheeses make a quick dessert.
Fresh grapes make an excellent and healthy snack.
In the 17th century, in the court of the French King Louis XIV, aged wine was applied to the face to improve the complexion.
To soften rough skin -- Crush a few grapes in honey and apply this mixture on the face. Rinse after 20 minutes.
For oily skin -- Combine 8-10 tbsp of grape juice and 8-10 tbsps of almond oil with half the amount of distilled water. Store in the refrigerator in a bottle. Use in the mornings and evenings by soaking a cotton ball in the mixture and dabbing on the oily portions of the face. Rinse off with cool water.
- Table Grapes
- Healthy Recipes
- Secrets of Natural Health
- The Grape Man
- The World Wide Gourmet
- Food Reference