Wine is generally destiny for grapes. It seems that was why we first began cultivating them and (mostly) why we still do. Some 76,000 square kilometres (about 47,225 square miles) of Earth’s surface is dedicated to grape growing and over 70% of the harvest is for wine-making. In the kitchen, grapes are typically more garnish than main event, but you can make delicious jams, and jellies, cakes and tarts with them. Most of us however are happy to pick them from the bunch, serve them with cheese or add them to salads and fruit salads. To expand the culinary repertoire, we have included two recipes by Kate McGhie in the Good Carbs Kitchen to try: Pork Meatballs with Fresh Grapes and Wild Rice with Fresh Grapes, Walnuts and Feta.
New season’s grapes start arriving in the produce aisles in summer. Taste one to check for sweetness as they don’t continue to ripen once they have been picked. Look for bunches as inviting as those in a still-life painting: plump fruit attached to moist flexible stems. The powdery bloom, more visible on dark-coloured grapes than on pale ones, is an important sign of freshness; it fades with time and handling. Avoid any sticky, split or wrinkled grapes on withered or limp stems. It’s also worth smelling them to make sure they aren’t starting to ferment. Store unwashed grapes in a plastic bag in the refrigerator and rinse just before using or eating. They should keep for about a week. It’s fun to freeze little bunches to make “grape blocks” for children to snack on.