As the holiday season quickly (welp) approaches, getting our charcuterie board game up to speed is a top priority. So, what’s one of the secrets that’ll make or break your spread? Ensuring that your cheese-pairing fruits—emphasis on the grapes—are plump, crunchy, and at their peak. While one soggy, mushy grape certainly won't ruin the entire party, it'll definitely put a damper on your palette... and your brie.
In an effort to kick your holiday grazing game up a nosh (er, notch), we spoke with two grape experts who shared their juicy secrets on keeping grapes crunchy and fresh for as long as possible.
How to keep grapes fresher for longer, according to grape experts
According to Nick Nakashian, assistant director of marketing, content development, and analysis at Grapes from California, keeping the fruit plump and juicy—for up to two weeks—is a multi-step process (but not a complicated one, don’t worry).
1. Store grapes in the fridge right up until you serve them
First, while you might be a super planner who gets the charcuterie board done well before the party even starts, the growers advise that you really shouldn’t keep grapes out in the heat for too long. They also recommend keeping grapes in the fridge at all times for maximum shelf life (including right before you're planning to serve them).
2. Don't be tempted to wash grapes as soon as you unpack them from your grocery bag
Also, ever wondered why unwashed grapes look like they had a secret rendezvous in your flour bin? Us too. “Grapes have a natural powdery-white coating called bloom, and its purpose is to protect the grapes from moisture loss and decay. So storing grapes unwashed and dry allows the bloom to keep grapes fresh, crunchy, and juicy longer,” Nakashian explains. TL;DR? You’ll want to avoid rinsing grapes as soon as you come home from the market—instead, give them a wash just before eating them.
3. Let them breathe
Nakashian also recommends avoiding storing grapes compressed or squeezed to help maintain their bubbly shape, or worse, squishing their delicious pulp right out of them. And, to avoid any funky-tasting grapes, they say to store them away from onions or leeks to prevent any unwanted odor absorption.
4. Keep an eye out for grapes with light, fresh-looking stems when shopping
Meanwhile, Seiji Morimoto, the grape grower at Magical Grapes, says you’ll want to pick out the best from the bunch from the get-go to ensure quality and freshness. What does that look like, exactly? According to Morimoto, this means staying away from grapes with dark, dried stems—a key indicator that they won’t last as long.
5. Don't be afraid to freeze any lingerers (IYKYK)
If all else fails and you don’t anticipate that you’ll have a chance to eat all of your grapes before they turn squishy and sad, Morimoto says to pop them in your freezer and enjoy them as a deliciously sweet frozen treat later on.
Too many grapes, not enough time? Here are a few ways you can cook with them, too:
1. Pickled Grapes
One of the best ways to preserve fresh produce is by pickling them, like in this pickled grape recipe by Sarah Bond from Live Eat Learn. “This is a fun way to turn peak freshness grapes into a savory condiment! I love them on bruschetta with a bit of ricotta or burrata,” Bond says.
Get the recipe: Pickled Grapes
2. Three Cheese Roasted Grape Pizza
Well, duh, pizza is the solution to almost everything, including this three-cheese-roasted grape pizza recipe by Live Eat Learn. “Have grapes that are on the brink of going bad? Roast them! Roasted grapes become ultra-sweet, which pair perfectly with salty cheese,” Bond says. This fruit-on-pizza combination deserves a hall pass, IMO.
Get the recipe: Three Cheese Roasted Grape Pizza
3. Grape Sorbet
Have a stash of frozen grapes you don’t know what to do with? Try about turning them into ice cream with this five-minute grape sorbet recipe by Live Eat Learn. “Buy too many grapes and not sure what to do with them all? I love to freeze them and then puree them into a tasty sorbet. It tastes just like Italian ice,” Bond says.
Get the recipe: 5-Minute Grape Sorbet
Fall is coming, and so is PSL season. These vegan pumpkin breakfast muffins are sure to put you in the right mood:
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