December 13, 2017
Succulent ripe grapes

Great Grapes: A Favorite Low-Cal Snack

by Berkeley Wellness  |  

Grapes were first cultivated 6,000 to 8,000 years ago in the Middle East, however, fossils indicate that the consumption of grapes goes back perhaps to the Neolithic Era—as many as 12,000 years ago. Native American wild grapes grew along stream banks, but compared with the table grapes we are familiar with today, they were sour. In the 18th century, as more Spanish settlers came to California, sweeter European grape varieties were introduced. They were eaten fresh, and used for making raisins and wine.

Grapes can grow in almost every type of climate, and while viticulture does particularly well in regions like the Mediterranean, grapes are now cultivated on six continents. A large percentage of the grapes grown in the United States are processed—more than half for wine, more than a fourth for raisins, and the remainder for juice and canning.

Grapes develop sugar as they ripen, but will become no sweeter once picked, so timing the harvest is important. To ensure that they reach the consumer in full, handsome clusters, table grapes and some grapes for fine wines are harvested by hand. Grapes intended for processing can be shaken from the vines with mechanical pickers.

Types of Grapes

There are two basic types of grapes, American and European. Today, both are grown in the United States, but the European grapes are more popular and versatile. Seeded varieties are thought to have better flavor than seedless, but Americans—who tend to eat grapes as a snack rather than as a dessert—seem

Grapes: Nutrition

Table grapes have low to moderate amounts of vitamins and minerals, although some varieties are good sources of vitamin C. But in today’s diet-conscious world, they offer other benefits. Their juiciness and natural sweetness, combined with a low calorie count, make them an excellent snack and dessert food.

Red wine, as well as red and purple grape juice, is a concentrated source of flavonoid phytochemicals. However, it’s not clear whether these phytochemicals offer heart-health benefits. There’s considerable scientific evidence for the heart-protective effects of moderate amounts alcohol of any type. Wine’s alcohol content may turn out to be its most important health feature.

How to Choose the Best Grapes

Because grapes are thin-skinned and easily damaged, they should be displayed in the store no more than two bunches deep and under refrigeration. The bunches may be wrapped in tissue paper or enclosed in perforated plastic bags. Loose bunches are easiest to evaluate, but the wrapped grapes are better protected from

How to store grapes at home

Before storing grapes at home, remove any spoiled fruit. Place unwashed grapes in a perforated plastic bag and store them in the refrigerator. They should keep for about a week.

How to use grapes

Wash grapes under cold water just before serving and remove any damaged fruit. Leave the bunch whole, or divide it into smaller branches for serving. This is easily done with a pair of scissors. If seeding is required, halve each grape and pick out the seeds with the tip of the knife.

12 Ways to Serve Grapes

Americans love grapes best as a low-calorie snack. But these delightful fruits add flavor to many savory dishes, as well. Here are 11 serving suggestions for grapes.

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