Moon Drops Grapes

Attention all conspiracy theorists – aliens from the moon are invading produce departments across the country. They are leaving their “drops” from “the moon” for unexpected customers. These may be the same aliens that brought that weird looking “fruit” the pomegranate. Is this part of their eventual plan to overthrow the earth and enslave us all? Actually you can put your pitch forks and shotguns down. These Moon Drops aren’t part of an alien invasion. They are yet another grape innovation, coming to you from our friends at Grapery.

Moon Drops Grapes

Grapery has been changing the perception of the way grapes taste, which has been clear with their Cotton Candy grapes. They also are changing the perception of the way grapes should look. We think of grapes as being round or oval. Thanks to Grapery, we can now add rectangle to the mix. Moon Drops are here. A black, seedless sweet grape, that has a elongated shape. The grape comes to a blunt end where it has an indentation – kind of like a dimple. The unique shape of this grape gives it an amazing bite. Really crisp. Never experienced anything quite like that in a grape. People who clamor for crisp fruit, will fall in love with these Moon Drops. The flavor of the grape isn’t as unique a flavor as Cotton Candy yet it is still very flavorful black grape. I doubt you will find a better tasting black grape.

Moon Drop grapes

This variety isn’t exactly new this season. Last year it was included in their Witch Finger line as you can see in the bag above. However after feedback from their consumers Grapery felt it was time to give them their own name. They thought originally about coming up with a name to cover all their uniquely shaped grapes. Consumer feedback showed that these grapes were different enough they deserved their own name. Therefore they conducted an online consumer naming contest. They generated 893 name suggestions! The names were then ranked in order of consumer preference and the name Moon Drops was the clear winner. Other finalists included Finger Snaps, Snap Dragons, Firecrackers, and Dimples. I think they got it right with the name Moon Drops.

Moon Drops Grapes

Look for Moon Drops grapes at the same retailers where you find Cotton Candy grapes (see my list for 2015). I found them this year at Whole Foods in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Grapery Vineyard

Availability of these grapes will increase with time. When I visited the Grapery’s vineyards back in March, I was showed some 1 year old Moon Drops vines.

Busch’s Ups Their Local Game

in Where I Buy Food

Busch's Local

Anyone that knows me or read this blog, knows that I am passionate about local food. Not only does it support the community or state you live in, but most the time you are supporting small farmers who need it and in the end you are getting a better product. Sometimes it’s even something you would never get anywhere else (that’s how I have tried as many apples as I have). You will find me at the farmer’s market each and every week during the height of the season. Somewhere else you might find me now looking for local produce, meats, and cheeses is Busch’s Fresh Food Market. In 2015, I have been super impressed with how the company has really upped their local game. Many stores are doing local, some just get their feet wet, but Busch’s is diving head first into it.

Busch's Local

Let me give you a sample of what you might find and why I felt it was worth my time to talk about them today. It’s not everything they have locally, just a few things I want to highlight.

The Produce

Busch's Local

When it comes to local, there is nothing more important than produce. When you enter their produce section they are local signs and stickers everywhere. Plenty of stores do local. It is easy to have local corn, blueberries, or apples here in Michigan when in season. Every grocery store carries those items. Busch’s has those items but they also carry things that other larger chains typically don’t. They had some wonderful local cherries in July that were black as a cherry can get and rich in flavor.

Busch's Local

They have local organic potatoes from one of my favorite vendors at the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market, Tantre Farms. It’s getting a piece of the farmer’s market any day of the week. I recently heard that their Ann Arbor store on Plymouth/Green Road is going to carry organic garlic from Dyer Family Organic Farm, who I featured in my 1st issue of my e-book series “Fruits of Their Labor“.

Busch's Local

Busch's Local

They have plenty of local greens from kale to salad mixes. I also saw tomatoes, summer squashes, micro greens, onions, fava beans, green beans and more.

I am really excited to see what they will offer as we get into the bounty of the autumn harvest season, particularly apples!

The Grocery Aisle

Busch's Local

As we walk through their grocery department, there are stickers all over the place highlight locally made products. You can find all your favorite local items, as well as many I haven’t seen at other stores like the uniquely flavored peanut butters from the Granola Tree.

Busch's Local

One of the coolest things I spotted was this canola oil from B&B Farms. Most canola oil you find in stores is from Canada and is nearly all made from GMO canola. This oil is made from non-GMO seed and is cold pressed.

Cheese

Busch's Local

Plenty of selection of local cheese available – many of them were on sale during my visit. Farm Country Cheese was one of the featured producers that was on ad. I tried both their Colby and Monterrey jack cheese. Both were cut into small, thin blocks which I liked. Both these cheeses were so good, I came back a few days later to buy some more.

Meat

Busch's Local

As I was heading out the door, I noticed a sign advertising a one day sale on house made sausage. The best part is that the pork was coming from a local source – Valley View Farms in Walkerville, MI.

Big props to Busch’s for really taking the “local craze” to the next level. Check out your local Busch’s to see what local treats you might find. They have stores in Ann Arbor, Saline, Carleton, Clinton, Dexter, Farmington Hills, Livonia, Novi, Pinckney, Plymouth/Northville, Rochester Hills, South Lyon, Tecumseh, and West Bloomfield.

How Did They Make Grapes Taste Like Cotton Candy?

in Fruit & Vegetables

How Did They Make Grapes Taste Like Cotton Candy

There is no shortage of posts on this blog about Cotton Candy grapes and their grower, Grapery. I am a big fan of the company and their goal of bringing unique and flavorful grapes to our grocery stores. There is still one question I wanted to specifically address today. It is the question I am asked most often about Cotton Candy grapes. The most frequently asked question is : How did they make grapes taste like Cotton Candy?

Click here to see a list of stores carrying Cotton Candy grapes in 2015

Cotton Candy Grapes Up Close 2015

How Did They Make Grapes Taste Like Cotton Candy?
“What did they inject these grapes with to make them taste like Cotton Candy?”, ” These must be GMO, right?” People can’t believe a grape tastes this way without some bizarre, unnatural laboratory project going on. What I find a lot of people don’t understand is that Grapery didn’t set out to make a grape that tasted like Cotton Candy. That wasn’t their goal. Their grape varieties are developed through all natural plant breeding, the same thing people have been doing for hundreds of years. This is done by crossing different grape varieties together, and then growing them. Then the grower must wait for a few years for the vines to produce fruit. The fruit is tasted. Most varieties don’t work out and are discarded. Cotton Candy grapes were good enough to make it to consumer testing.

Flavorless Seedless Grapes
I think part of the reason why people have a hard time believing a grape can have a flavor like is they are use to flavorless, balls of sugar water, called seedless grapes. Flavor doesn’t seem to be a priority for most grape growers. Most Americans are used to eating grapes that just don’t have much flavor to them. So when they taste something as unique as Cotton Candy grapes it comes as a complete shock to them. If you take a walk over to the wine section at any store you see the true potential of grapes. Even though I am not a wine drinker, I know there are so many different types of wines available with different flavor profiles. Or, have you ever wondered why grape juice doesn’t taste like the seedless grapes you buy? My wife always wondered why white grape juice didn’t taste like grapes – that’s because she never tasted a grape like the Niagara grape that companies like Welch’s uses for white grape juice. The table grape selection is no where near the selection of flavors available as juice, whether fermented or not.

How Cotton Candy Grapes Got Their Name
When they were first test tested out in the field in 100 degree weather, they felt the flavor of the grape was more of a toffee/caramel flavor. But when chilled and taste tested by potential consumers, the overwhelming response they got was that these grapes taste just like cotton candy. So you see they weren’t trying to create a grape with that exact flavor profile, the people who tasted the grape felt it had that profile, hence the name “Cotton Candy grapes” was born. Grapery didn’t name the grape, we – the consumer named the grape. That’s why I am such a big fan of this company and talk about them so much. Not only are they going hard after flavor, they are listening to what the people want.

Want to learn more about Cotton Candy grapes and their story from the vine to our stores? Check out the first edition of my e-book series “Fruits of Their Labor

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Sable Seedless Grapes

in Fruit & Vegetables

Sable Seedless Grapes

I am constantly searching new varieties of fruits and vegetables to try. I love those moments when I discover something new to bring home. As the years go on it is becoming hard and hard for me to do that, since I have tried so much. It’s a real treat now. The last place I would ever think of finding some new variety to try would be Walmart – yet that is what happened this week.

My wife gave me a call while I was out saying that we were in need of more ketchup. Walmart was the closet store, so I just ran in there to grab the ketchup. As I passed the produce section I noticed some different packaging. Sitting right next to some Princess grape with Elsa and Anna from Frozen on it was a package of grapes that said Sable Seedless on them. The label on the clamshell packaging said that these grapes have a sweet Muscat and tropical flavor. They had me at Muscat. I love Muscat grapes. They are the rosy colored grapes from Chile that you find in March and April each year. No doubt I was going to buy these grapes. The grapes were packed by SunWorld.

Sable Seedless Grapes

My Experience with these grapes (Rating Scale 1-10)
Sweetness: 7
Tartness: 5
Texture: 8
Seed/Seedless: Seedless
Grape Flavor: 8

Overall Feeling: I was very impressed with these grapes. For sure the best grapes ever at Walmart. They were sweet with enough tartness to not be just sweet. The flavor was unique. I tasted the Muscat flavor for sure, which is strange in a black grape. I could taste a subtle tropical flavor. The grape has a thick skin that was nice to bite into. The grapes I had were in excellent condition with all the grapes still attached to the vine. Once grapes fall of the vine, they tend to go back faster. Sable grapes seem to hold up very well in shipping. I was quite impressed.

Where to Buy:
I purchased my grapes at Walmart. You can find SunWorld grapes at the following retailers. Check with retailer for specific variety availability. Sable Seedless grapes are available from June through August.

Ahold
Albertson’s
Aldi
BJ’s
Carrs
Cosentinos
Costco
Dierbergs Market
Dillons
El Super/Bodega Latina
Family Foods
Fred Meyer
Fry’s Food Stores
Harris Teeter
Heinen’s
Hen House
Hy-Vee
Jewel-Osco
King Scooper’s
Kirby Foods
Kroger
Market Basket
Millers
Niemman’s
Price Chopper
Publix
QFC
Raley’s
Ralph’s
Ranch Market
Randall’s
Reasor’s
Rosauers
Roundy’s
Rouse’s
Safeway
Sam’s Club
Save Mart
Schnuck Markets
Shaw’s
Smith’s
Star Market
Stater Bros
Super 1
Super Valu
Tom Thumb
Tops
Trading Company
United Supermarkets
URM Food Service
Vons
Wakefern
Walmart
Winco
Winn-Dixie
Yoke’s

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