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Feature Article From Harvest to Health
How to select, store, prepare and preserve a variety of farm-fresh produce





Grapes are about 80 percent water, making them a delectable low-calorie snack or dessert—a cup of Concord or Catawba grapes contains only about 60 calories. Grapes also add fiber to the diet and are naturally low in sodium. Raisins, or dried grapes, contain only about 15 percent water. For this reason, nutrients and calories are more concentrated in raisins—one cup contains 464 calories! Like other dried fruit, raisins are a good source of iron.

Selecting Grapes:

High quality grapes are plump, well formed and firmly attached to green, pliable stems. Fully ripe grapes are soft and tender. Grapes showing signs of decay, shriveling, stickiness or dry brittle stems should be avoided.

Missouri grapes are suited for making juice, wine, and jelly as well as for table use. The two major varieties of grapes grown in Missouri are Concord and Catawba. Blue Concord grapes are excellent for table use and for making juice and jelly. The large, purplish-red catawba variety is used primarily for making juice and wine, but can also be served fresh for eating.

Different type of grapes have different nutrients and calories in them. American style grapes are lower in calories than European style red or green grapes.

Here is a reliable guide when looking up the calorie content of foods:


and this is a listing for grapes:

Using and Preserving Grapes:

Fresh Facts:

  • Fresh grapes maintain good quality for two days to three days in the refrigerator. Store in a covered container or plastic bag.
  • Just before use, wash grape clusters under a gentle spray of water, drain and pat dry.
  • Table grapes are at their best served slightly chilled to enhance their crisp texture and refreshing flavor.
  • Seedless grapes are used whole. For seeded grapes, remove seeds by cutting grapes into halves lengthwise and scooping out seeds with the point of a knife.
  • Grapes are easier to peel when they're frozen. Just rinse frozen grapes in lukewarm water until skins split. Skins will then slip right off.
  • When preparing small clusters of grapes for garnishing, cut the clusters with scissors. This helps keep the grapes attached to the stem.
  • For longer storage, grapes can be canned, frozen, or made into juice or sweet spreads to enhance meals throughout the year. Grapes can be dried as raisins for use as a snack or in baking.

Canned Facts:

  • Seedless grapes can be canned whole for use in fruit salads and molded gelatin desserts. If seeded varieties are used, halve and remove seeds before canning.
  • Grape juice can be canned both sweetened and unsweetened. If juice will be made into jelly later, it's best to can it without sugar—then add the proper amount of sugar at jelly making time.
  • To prevent mold growth, seal grape jelly with two-piece canning lids and process for five minutes in a simmering water bath.

Freezer Facts:

  • Frozen grape juice is of excellent quality—serve it alone or mixed with other juices. Freeze a few grape “popsicles” for an icy summer treat.
  • Freeze grape puree for use in making grape pie and to flavor yogurt.
  • Tray-freeze seedless grapes and store them in freezer containers. When summer temperatures sizzle, chill summer drinks with “grape” ice cubes.
  • For an easy, refreshing summer dessert, serve tray-frozen grapes in a chilled glass bowl.

Dried Facts:

  • The quality of dried grapes, or raisins, is excellent.
  • For best results, use seedless grapes. If seeded varieties are used, remove seeds as described under Fresh Facts before drying.
  • Because of high humidity, sun-drying is not recommended in Missouri. For best results, dry grapes in a dehydrator or oven.


Quick ’N Fresh Ideas:

  • No time to make a fancy dessert? Serve clusters of chilled grapes on a platter with several types of cheese. Let guests serve themselves.
  • A breakfast that’s guaranteed to wake up slow starters—heap light green honeydew melon halves with luscious red grapes and top with yogurt. A toasted muffin makes this quick meal a nutritious morning starter.
  • For a delicious one-course summer dinner, add chilled grapes to your favorite pasta, chicken, or seafood salad. Serve with crusty bread or roll.

Grape and Chicken Toss
1/2 cup grapes, halved and seeded
1 1/2 cups cooked chicken (or turkey) chunks
1 avocado diced
3 tablespoons slivered almonds
1/4 cup yogurt
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
dash white pepper

Toss grapes, chicken, avocado and almonds. Mix yogurt, lemon juice, and peppers and pour over grape-chicken mixture. Toss again. Serve chilled on whole wheat toast.
Makes: 4 to 6 servings.

Microwave Fruit Compote*
3/4 cup halved grapes, seeded
2 peaches, pitted and sliced
2 plums, pitted and sliced
1 cup water
2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
2 tablespoons frozen apple juice concentrate
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon dried mint leaves

Combine all ingredients in a two quart casserole. Microwave on high for 14 minutes to 21 minutes, or until tapioca is tender and translucent, stirring twice. Chill at least three hours before serving. Makes 8 half-cup servings

* To prepare on top of the range, combine all ingredients and cook over medium heat until tapioca is tender and translucent, stirring continuously.


Complete directions for preserving grapes can be found in the following publications:
GH 1455, Canning Fruits
GH 1502, Freezing Fruits
GH 1563 How to Dry Foods at Home
Directions for making sweet spreads from grapes can be found in GH 1461 through 1464.


To order any of the "From Harvest to Health" publications or for more preservation information, please refer to the University of Missouri Extension, Human Environmental Sciences Publications - Food, Nutrition and Fitness section.



Last update: Thursday, June 18, 2009


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