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All of us have experienced this.
We go to the store, pick out what looks like a perfectly fine bags of grapes. The grapes come home with us.
We clean them off, excited to eat them, and then boom, we are stopped right in our tracks, with the disappointment of having just tasted a sour grape. You hope it's only a fluke, only to realize that after several test subjects fail, that you are now an owner of a bag of sour grapes.
How could this happen? The sign at the store promised that these grapes were sweet - how could a grocery store sign let me down. Be assured that your disappointment did not begin in the grocery store, but out in the field - where profit often trumps flavor and sweetness.
Why Grocery Store Grapes are Sour
There are several factors that play into why grocery store grapes are so inconstient - sometimes sweet, sometimes sour, sometimes flavorful, often times not. Grapes are picked when they appear ready, even if they haven't reached their peak levels of sugar and flavor. They quicker they are picked, the quicker money can be made. If the sign and appearance of the grape is there, then it's removed from the vine. Often growers remove all the grapes at once. Problem is that not all bunches are ready at the same time. It takes a skilled picker to determine which grapes are perfect, and which need more time. That requires more money on the part of the grower to pack more skilled workers and to spend time go back over the same vines. It's cheaper to pay someone to pick them all and move on.
People buy grapes while disregarding brands. I have seen companies put more effort in recent years to make more attractive packaging with names on it that customers will remember. But I don't think it's getting through to the customer. Stores cycle through so many grape brands from day to day that sometimes it's hard to find the same one in back to back trips. The grape industry is far away from being as recognized as say the Halos and Cuties of the citrus world. You can choose to be a smart consumer and keep track of the brand you buy. Take a moment to look over the bag, not just grab and eat. Where do they come from? What company? And when you find something like, save the bag. Maybe cut out the logo and tap it to a piece of paper you keep on the fridge.
Different Varieties of Grapes
Red, black, and green are the most we normally see on signs of grapes. We don't see Sugarone, Thompson, Crimson, Autumn Royal, etc. We often do not know which type of grape were are getting. These grapes all have different levels of sweetness and different flavors. Some are more likely to be sour when picked too early. Some varieties are sadly grown not for flavor, but for profit alone.
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Can I Make Grapes Sweeter
Grapes ripen on the vine. They don't get sweeter off the vine, they just rot. It's not like a banana that sweetness as it matures. Once the grape is picked, it's as sweet as it's going to get. You could put sugar on the grapes, but that just seems wrong to me. The best advice I can give you to make sure you don't experience again is taste the grapes first. Any store that won't allow you to taste the grapes is not a store worth shopping at. Over the years I have become more bold, so I don't mind going for a sample myself. Grapes are the easiest fruit to sample in the store. It's not like taking a bite out of a watermelon (but if I wanted to, I would ask the nearest produce worker).
A Grape Growers to Watch Out For
Anyone that regularly reads my blog, knows I am a huge fan of Grapery. They are a grape grower out of Bakersfield, California. To me they produce the best tasting grapes I have ever tasted. A lot of people already know about their Cotton Candy grapes - which actually do tastes just like Cotton Candy. They also offer their Flavor Promise grapes, that they promise will never disappoint you or your money back.
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When All Else Fails, Grow Grapes Yourself!
If you are interested in growing your own grapes, or you already do and would like some tips, make sure to check out the book "The Organic Backyard Vineyard - A Step by Step Guide to Growing Your Own Grapes". I also have a post I wrote about what varieties of grapes are good to grow at home.
When All Else Fails, Eat Raisins!
Hey if growing grapes doesn't work for you and you can't get any good store bought grapes, buy some raisins. Perfect for taking on the road. I wanted to share with you a few unique raisins you could consider
- Anthony's Black Maroo Raisins - I love large, plumb, juicy raisins. Black Maroo is a black grape variety that produces large, sweet, seedless grapes.
- Sunview Seedless Medley - I got to say I am sucker for variety of anything. I grow different colors peas in my garden since I love variety so much. So whenever I see a medley of raisins, gotta to have them.
- Basse Golden Raisins - Golden Raisins are pretty and good. I prefer them in my salads to other types.