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Using Grapes

There are thousands of varieties of grapes. Some are grown for snacking, others for making wine, and there are also special varieties for raisins, grape juice, and jelly. The word grape comes from the name of the tool used long ago to "grapple" this fruit from the vines.

Choosing grapes
When shopping for table grapes, look for full, plump clusters with no bruises or soft spots. Check the stem; it should be green and very pliable.

Storing grapes
Refrigerate in a loosely closed plastic bag. Many varieties of grapes have a white powder coating known as bloom, which helps keep grapes moist. Avoid washing off the bloom until just before serving or using.

Freezing grapes
Lay individual grapes in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until solid. Then, transfer to plastic bags or an airtight container in the freezer. The high sugar content in grapes keeps them from freezing solid. They'll last as long as a month in the freezer, and they make a cool treat on a hot summer day. Frozen grapes can also be used as flavorful ice cubes in drinks, punches, or sangrias.

To serve grapes
For the most pronounced flavor, bring the grapes to room temperature before serving.

To cook with grapes
Use red grapes, which maintain their shape better when heated.

Adding a burst of flavor to the grapes
Add a handful of seedless green or red grapes to salads, to couscous, or to stir-fries made with chicken, pork, or seafood.

Nutritional benefits from grape juice
Drink 12 ounces a day and choose dark grape juice, since the flavonoids are in the skin. Drink 100 percent grape juice rather than grape drink, which is a watered-down, sweetened beverage containing very little actual grape juice.

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