If you are about to pick grapes either directly from a tree, or from a local orchard or market, here's what you need to know to pick the best grapes.
Grapes are a fairly early crop, flowering soon after the last frosts in April and May, setting fruit in June, usually at the same time as strawberries in most areas (but check your area's harvest calendar and call the farm or orchard you are planning to go to a few weeks ahead).
There are several; types of grapes:
Grapes are grown throughout the United States and Canada, and there are numerous varieties grown across different regions of the countries. These grape varieties differ in their characteristics, flavor profiles, and ideal growing conditions.
Here are some of the more commonly grown grape varieties:
- Thompson Seedless: Green grapes, often used for eating fresh or making raisins.
- Red Globe: Large, round red grapes with a sweet flavor, commonly used as table grapes.
- Flame Seedless: Red grapes known for their sweet taste and crisp texture.
- Crimson Seedless: Seedless red grapes, similar in flavor and appearance to Flame Seedless.
- Autumn Royal: Large, black grapes with a sweet flavor, usually harvested in late summer or early fall.
- Muscadines: Native to the Southeastern United States, these grapes have thick skins and a sweet, musky flavor. They come in various colors,
including black, bronze, and purple.
- Scuppernongs: A specific type of muscadine grape, known for its large size, bronze color, and sweet flavor.
- Sugarone: Seedless green grapes with a crunchy texture and a sweet-tart flavor.
- Autumn King: Seedless, large green grapes known for their crispness and sweetness.
- Sweet Jubilee: Seedless red grapes with a balanced sweetness and a hint of tartness.
- Princess Seedless: Blue-black grapes with a sweet flavor and firm texture.
- Scarlet Royal: Seedless red grapes with a juicy and sweet taste.
1. Concord Grapes:
- Concord grapes are one of the most well-known grape varieties in the U.S., often used for making grape juice, jellies, and jams.
- They are predominantly grown in the Northeastern United States, particularly in New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.
- Concord grapes are ready for harvest in late summer or early fall when the berries turn deep purple with a slight bloom. The fruit should be firm but not overly soft.
- To harvest Concord grapes, gently twist or cut the clusters from the vine. Handle them carefully to avoid damaging the delicate skins.
2. Thompson Seedless Grapes:
- Thompson Seedless grapes, also known as Sultana, are a popular green grape variety in the U.S., favored for eating fresh, making raisins, or using in salads.
- They are primarily grown in California, where the Mediterranean climate provides ideal conditions for grape cultivation.
- Thompson Seedless grapes reach their peak ripeness in late summer. Look for a pale green color, slightly translucent berries, and a sweet fragrance.
- To harvest Thompson Seedless grapes, carefully cut the grape clusters from the vine using pruning shears. Be cautious not to damage the fruit or the surrounding vines.
3. Cabernet Sauvignon Grapes:
- Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are widely recognized as a classic red wine grape variety, known for producing full-bodied and complex wines.
- They are predominantly grown in California, particularly in the Napa Valley and Sonoma regions, but can also be found in other states such as Washington and Oregon.
- Harvesting Cabernet Sauvignon grapes is typically done in early to mid-fall when the berries have reached their optimal sugar and tannin levels. The grapes should have a deep, dark color and a rich flavor.
- When harvesting wine grapes, it is essential to consider the winemaker's desired characteristics. Grapes can be hand-picked or machine-harvested, depending on the vineyard's practices.
It's important to note that grape harvesting times can vary depending on the specific region and local climate conditions. Additionally,
different grape varieties may have slightly different harvesting techniques. Always consult local resources, vineyard experts, or agricultural
extension services in your area for precise information on grape varieties, growing regions, and harvest timing.
Properly harvested grapes can be enjoyed fresh or used in various culinary applications such as winemaking, cooking, or preserving.
General Picking Tips
Whether you pick Grapes from your own trees, a market or at a Pick-Your-Own farm, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Wikipedia and the USDA provide the following nutritional analysis of grapes
As raw fruit, sweet grapes provide little nutrient content per
100 g serving (nutrient table). Dietary fiber and vitamin C are
present in moderate content while other vitamins and dietary
minerals each supply less than 10% of the Daily Value (DV) per
serving, respectively (table).
Compared to sweet grapes, raw sour grapes contain slightly higher content per 100 g of vitamin C (12% DV) and vitamin A (8% DV) (table).
I want to make grape juice and grape jam. Do you know how I could extract the juice, getting rid of the pits?
There are various types of grape pitters that are easy and effective. Juicers tend to jam on the pits (if you know of a brand of juicer that is reliable and effective with grapes, write me!
See this page about grape pitters. Once pitted, juicers work great:
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