Hot tips on Chilean Grapes

Grapes are grown throughout the world but at this time of year, the muscat (or you might see it also as the muscat beauty, pink muscats or similar) is a must try. It’s a sophisticated taste – think of floral tones. It ranges from a green – pink to an almost amber shade. As any good old grape farmer will tell you, the amber brings on the flavour.  They are easy to spot – they aren’t red, green or black/purple. Retailers are trying all kinds of different ways to encourage quick and safe pick up of fruits and veggies. Kin’s Market recently introduced the Grab and Go Farm Boxes. The Chilean Muscat grape was in there!

My boyfriend tried them recently and you could tell by his lit-up expression that he would be devouring them ASAP.  Muscats (in April/early May) were still available at Kin’s but I’ve also spotted them at Real Canadian Superstore, City Market and No Frills.

Chilean Muscats are a unique variety that was bred to be eaten out of hand. The grape might be a rosy pink with a green background to golden amber yellow. It is a short season basically from March to May. The taste is delicate, slightly musky, highly aromatic, almost floral. It has a high sugar level from 20 to 24 versus 16 to 20 for most grapes. Muscats are best consumed fresh.

Some quick ideas: Add grapes to a grazing board, make someone smile at breakfast – two eyes with a quick smile. Enjoy fresh, or freeze and use as ice-cubes. Try them roasted! Roasting grapes are fun and are amazing. I did a recent dish that asked for raisins and so I decided to include both – I will be doing that again!

If you love to bake I suggest you head over to discover an amazing Grape-Ricotta-Crostata. She used Chilean Red grapes. http://westrosa.com/grape-ricotta-crostata/

There is also a very pretty cheesecake recipe and a smoothie recipe that VanFoodies did using the muscat grapes. Check it out here: https://vanfoodies.com/2020/04/30/muscat-grapes-from-chile/

If you want to try something a bit more funky – what about jello shots? Check out Maggi Mei. https://youtu.be/Zu4yMQQkXX0

Vegetarian Pasta dish with Lemon, Cashew, Grape, Raisin and Greens. The basic gist: Cook your pasta of choice al dente. Drizzle some olive oil into a cast iron frying pan and add 2 medium red onions that have been peeled and thinly sliced. As the onions start to caramelize, toss in a small handful of cashews, add raisins and sliced grapes. Inhale the aroma. Roll your two lemons and grate the zest off . Then squeeze the juices into that pan. Add in a couple of tablespoons of butter. Another handful of grapes. Turn off the heat. In a large warmed glass salad bowl, toss in your greens (spinach, baby kale, arugula), put the hot pasta on top (this will wilt the greens), then pour that raisin-nut-butter mixture on top. Gently stir. Add the grated lemons and a few more grapes – VOILA!

I renamed my version Lemon, Cashew, Grape, Raisin and Greens. Pinenuts are so expensive right now so I used cashews. I had arugula so that replaced the spinach. I soaked the raisins and then I used the grapes in two ways: I added them in earlier with the onions as they caramelized. And then I tossed in a handful of grapes at the very end. Peter Gordon, author and chef of a book called “A World in my Kitchen” has a totally delicious recipe called: Lemon, Pinenut, Raisin and Spinach Pasta. I adapted his recipe. Okay, okay so I totally messed with it – his original recipe is soooooo good but I am thrilled with my adaptation. Check his site out at: http://www.peter-gordon.com/

Shopping for Grapes

Shopping for grapes can be an art form in its own way. BC, Ontario and Quebec grapes will be ready for harvesting in Sept/Oct. So right now you want to explore countries like Chile.

Chile’s counter-seasonal harvest means that we can get imported fresh fresh grapes in late winter/spring. My geography of South America is a bit shaky, but I do know that Chile is where the seasons are opposite to that of North America.

When you buy grapes do you look for a specific variety, where it was plucked from, a favorite colour? Or because it is a habit to always buy the same grape. Perhaps you always buy seedless. Or it is based on size. I’ve discovered buying grapes is a bit like buying an apple – there are so many varieties to discover!

Not only do you have to deal with multiple seasons but do you want a super large Globe grape or an ultra small Champagne bundle? I’ve always loved Green seedless grapes. The tartness gives me bliss.

This post was sponsored by the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association so I have some great additional info to share with you. Chile is the second longest country in the world, stretching for over 4,300km (about 2,600 miles). The long sequential harvesting period begins in the north from November and continues southward until April means that we see grapes from Chile from late November and into May. The peak period is from January to May.

While known for such popular grape varieties as Red Globe, Crimson and Thompson Seedless, Chile has been introducing numerous new varieties, including:

  • Sweet Celebration; Midnight Beauty; Timco; Scarlota Seedless
  • Magenta; Sweet Jubilee; Timpson; Allison and Chilean Muscats.

How to pick the best bunch:

  • When choosing grape bunches, select ones that are firm, plump, and firmly attached to the stems.
  • Look for consistent colour. Their stems should be green and flexible. If they are going a bit brown, that just means they been off their parent plant longer.
  • Play with colour: Grapes come in many colours and shades with the most common being red, green or black. You will also find them in shades of purple, pink and yellow-amber.
  • Do you see a powdery-white coating on the grapes? Don’t worry. Bloom is a naturally occurring substance that protects grapes from moisture loss and decay. It is safe to eat.
  • Size: As a general rule, one pound of grapes is roughly 2.5 cups. 30 grapes would be around a cup (which is approx. 100 calories). Grapes can range in size from a quarter inch to about 2 inches!
  • “Seedless” table grapes actually have soft seeds but they are hard to see as they don’t have the hard coat of a normal seed.
  • Avoid sticky, mouldy, or shriveled grapes and dry and brittle stems. They are best for the compost.

Insider Tips

  • You can bake with fresh or frozen grapes!
  • Keep a batch rinsed and ready to eat, in a bowl, on your counter or in your fridge. That way you always have a snack handy.
  • Bought too many grapes?  Freeze them! Wash and dry small clusters of grapes, then place in the container of your choice and store in the freezer.
  • You can either eat them as crunchy, sweet, frozen treats, or use them as ice cubes!

So you bought them, now what?

  1. Refrigerate grapes in their original package.
  2. Wait to wash your grapes until you eat them.
  3. How to wash your fresh fruit: Whether you are shopping in the supermarket for produce, having it delivered or picking it up, the rules for cleaning your produce haven’t changed. Just wash it like you always would under cool running water.
  4. When storing, be gentle, they like space and need air, so don’t crowd them.
  5. Grapes can keep for several weeks. Keep them refrigerated for maximum life

What’s the good nutrition stuff?

Grapes are loaded with antioxidants like flavonoids and resveratrol. Known to neutralize free radicals, these polyphenols help repair and protect the health and function of our cells.

  • Like all fruit, grapes are free of cholesterol, fat, sodium and gluten (okay almost all fruit except the avocado as it does have fat)
  • Grapes have a low glycemic index if you need that info!
  • A cup of grapes has about 100 calories, making them a high-volume, nutrient-dense snack. But whoever eats just a cup. I just grab a bunch and chow down.
  • They are a good source of vitamin K, vitamin C and many of the B vitamins.
  • Grapes are 82% water – what a great way to stay hydrated!
  • Grapes play a role in: cancer prevention (resveratrol, an antioxidant, helps DNA repair free radical damage); heart health (think phytochemicals); digestive health (soothing); kidney health (grapes are a natural diuretic helping eliminate toxic waste more efficiently); allergy relief (high in anti-inflammatories to help relieve allergic response); bone health (grapes help to improve bone calcium retention)

Information Links:

fruitsfromchile.com

If you are a Facebook Fan check out their pages – they always are running contests: https://www.facebook.com/FruitsfromChileCanada/

If you prefer to capture your info on Pinterest, twitter or Instagram – just search for FruitsFromChile.  #FruitsFromChile  #FruitfromChileCanada

Closing thought: Have you ever wondered why grapes are seedless but you can go to the health food store and buy grape seed extract?

Checking out the Kin’s Grab and Go Farm box.

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