How to skin grapes?

Wine Grapes and Table Grapes – What’s the Difference

Have you ever sat munching on a bunch of grapes and the question came into your mind?

Why didn’t these grapes become wine?

It’s a common question. Most of us just assume that winemakers have a bunch of grapes left over from production and those are the ones that find their way onto our tables.

But that isn’t the case. In fact, there’s a surprising amount of things that separate table grapes from the grapes that get used to make your favourite wines.

Of course, that leaves us with another question.

What’s the difference?

That’s the question that we’re going to explore with this examination of both table and wine grapes.

The Two Big Differences

There are two big things that separate table grapes from those that are used for making wine:

  • How sweet they are
  • How they’re grown

The latter has the biggest effect on where the grape ends up. And of course, the growing methods get reflected in the taste that the grape ends up having.

Let’s look at these two major factors separately.

How They’re Grown

If you’re a wine enthusiast, you’ll already have images of vast vineyards that stretch for as far as the eye can see. The grapes are left to the elements, as it’s the quality of the terroir and the elements themselves that often give the grapes the unique characteristics that define the wines they end up in.

Let’s look at the wine grape first. Typically, these types of vineyards have vertical trellises, which allow the producer to control how long the grape ends up being exposed to the sun. They do this by controlling the size of the canopy that hangs over the fruit.

With wine grapes, the end goal is always to concentrate the grape’s flavour in as efficient as manner as possible.

However, the secondary goal is to ensure the vine produces as many grapes as possible while still maintaining a high level of quality. This is referred to as the vine vigour. A vigorous vine will produce a lot of grapes, but these will typically be of a sub-standard quality that makes them unsuitable for all but the most basic of wines. Producers typically aim for a low level of vigour, especially when making prestige wines. Low vigour means fewer grapes, which results in a higher concentration of flavour.

When it comes to vigour, the opposite is true of table grapes. In fact, producers want to grow as many of these types of grape as possible, likely because they generally have a more standardised taste than the grapes used for wine.

Table grape producers typically reside in areas that have extremely nutritional soil. This prompts the vines to grow to their maximum production capacity, though this is at the expense of flavour concentration.

The growing method differs slightly too. While table grapes still require a trellis system, this is designed so that the grapes have as little contact with greenery and other grape clusters as possible.

For comparison, a strong table grape vine can produce as many as 30lbs of grapes per vine. However, it’s rare for a wine grape vine to produce much more than 12lbs of grapes.

The Sweetness Difference

The mention of flavour concentration may have already clued you into which of the two types of grape taste sweeter.

That’s right. Wine grapes are definitely the sweeter of the two. And it all comes down to their composition.

Wine grapes are grown to be as lean as possible. The aim is to increases their potency. As a result, the grape will generally have tons of seeds inside it alongside much thicker skin. You’ll also notice a much higher juice concentration of you ever take a bite into one.

They’re also chewier and difficult to transport, which is why you’ll rarely see people eating these types of grape. For as sweet as they are, the number of seeds and the chewiness of the skin makes for an unpleasant eating experience.

Table grapes, by contrast, a much fatter than their wine grape equivalents. This is because they’re less concentrated, and thus contain much more pulp. They also don’t contain any seeds, which is always a positive when eating. The thinner skins also mean that you don’t have to gnaw away at the grape just to get to the tasty part inside it.

While being less sweet than wine grapes, table grapes still contain plenty of sugar and are quite sweet. They’re also lower in acidity, which makes them easier to eat in large amounts.

So, just take a look at the grape if you ever want to see the difference between wine and table grapes. The larger grapes fall into the table grape category, whereas slimmer grapes are generally wine grapes.

Are There Any Similarities?

Of course there are. They’re both types of grapes after all.

The differences in table and wine grapes tend to stem from the growing methods.

But almost all grapes on both sides can count themselves as distant descendants of the Vitis Vinifera family of grapes. In fact, about 90% of all of the grapes in the world are a part of this family.

Every wine grape falls into this family, while there’s a little more variety when it comes to table grapes.

The Final Word

When it really comes down to it, there’s not a lot to separate table and wine grapes on the genetic level. In fact, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that most table grapes could become wine grapes, should the producer choose to make them that way.

It all comes down to the way the grapes are grown and the techniques that the producer users to manipulate flavour concentration.

So the next time you’re eating some grapes, just remember that these grapes wouldn’t be used to make a bottle of wine. Italian wine producers go to a lot of painstaking effort to grow grapes specifically for that purpose.

But on the flipside, you probably wouldn’t eat a wine grape either. There’s room for both types in the world!

I’m a passionate about good wine and good cooking.

I like to keep me updated and share with my online friends my gastronomic knowledge.

Q: How much do the grapes picked from the vine taste like the wine? Would gewurztraminer, sauvignon blanc or tempranillo grapes have those distinctive flavors of their wines? Are they edible at all?

— Glenn Ramsey, Winnetka

A: Wine grapes are edible but they’re really not meant to be eaten out of hand like table grapes. Wine grapes have seeds and thicker skins, and they tend to be sweeter because the sugars will be turned into alcohol during fermentation. The winemaker also has an important role in determining the final flavor of a given wine, from choosing the yeast strain used in fermentation to whether the wine will be aged in oak barrels and for how long. Once bottled, the wine continues to evolve; age-worthy bottles develop an appealing complexity with time.

Ironically, saying a wine tastes “grapey” is something of an insult.

Q: When I was in Australia early this year, a friend and I went to the Hunter Valley where I had a type of wine I had never had before: semillon. I liked one and bought it; I believe it was called Mistletoe Silvereye Semillon 2006. I would like to buy some more, but I have not been able to find a store that sells it. I can buy it directly from the winery, but would prefer to buy it here.

— Lynn Steiner, Chicago

A: Mistletoe Wines is very clear on its Web site that wines have to purchased directly from the winery. You’ll have to contact them to see how much shipping from Australia to the United States will cost you. Notice I wrote United States, not Chicago or Illinois. The winery would have to apply for a shipping permit from the state liquor control commission to send its wine into Illinois.

Seems like a lot of fuss for a wine that sells for $18 a bottle in Australia. There are many semillons and semillon-sauvignon blanc blends out there to choose from. Tell your local wine vendor what kind of wine you’re looking for and ask for suggestions.

Do you have a wine or spirit question for Bill Daley? Write to him at the Chicago Tribune, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611, or e-mail [email protected] Questions cannot be answered individually.

Wine Grapes and Grape-y Wines

© Donald A. Dibbern, Jr.

As I was biting into a juicy, aromatic Muscat grape at a recent Wine & Spirit Education Trust tasting, it occurred to me that wine lovers don’t often have the opportunity to taste the grapes tht go into our favorite wines. When was the last time you tasted a ripe Chardonnay grape, or a Pinot Noir grape?

Perhaps surprisingly, most wine-grape varieties aren’t normally used as table grapes, and vice-versa. This is primarily because wine grapes and table grapes are selected on the basis of different characteristics.

The ideal table grape should be easy to eat out of hand without making a mess, so fruit growers choose table varieties with thin skins and either no apparent seeds or only tiny, edible seeds. In grapes destined for wine, however, much of the flavor and tannins and virtually all of the color comes from the skin. (Many wine enthusiasts don’t realize that, with rare exceptions, the juice of black, purple and red grapes is “white” or clear.) So, for wine, thick-skinned grapes are desirable because they produce robust, flavorful, tannic and long-lived wines. Seeds are left behind in the “pomace” of pressed grape skins, stems and seeds after the grapes have been pressed. This isn’t much of a problem, although wine makers know that the grapes must be pressed gently, not roughly, as breaking the seeds will release bitter oils into the wine, a bad thing.

The ratio of sweet, juicy pulp to inedible matter in the grape is economically significant as well. The Asian Red Globe variety, for instance, is popular as a table grape because it is large. A small, dense berry may seem like more trouble than it is worth to eat, but it’s ideal for making rich complex wines, as the juice macerates the skins, extracting and soaking in the flavors.

Indeed, if the grapes are too large, winemakers sometimes must even “bleed” fermentation vats of some of their juice – a process called saignée – to increase the ratio of skin to juice. This can happen, for example, if there are heavy rains at harvest and the berries are swollen and waterlogged.

A few grape varieties, notably the Muscat I mentioned – can do quite nicely as either a table grape or a wine grape. In this case, the decision may be simply economic, depending on the local market and prices offered for table grapes, raisins or wine grapes.

So, what do wine grapes taste like? This brings to mind a startlingly brazen scene from the movie Mondovino, in which the filmmaker’s camera caught a tourist apparently casually snacking on grapes right off the vine at Domaine de la Romanee-Conti without permission.

Not surprisingly, perhaps, wine grapes rarely taste exactly like the wines they make, since you don’t generally eat the skins of these varieties. While volunteering at local wineries here in Oregon, I have had the opportunity to taste ripe Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes at harvest and crush. I found both quite delicious, intensely sweet and much juicier than the usual Thompson Seedless (Sultana) table grapes. They did not, however, necessarily show the characteristic green-apple flavors of Chardonnay wine or the red fruit flavors – cherries, raspberries, plums – commonplace in Pinot Noir wine.

Muscat does indeed taste “grapey,” and Concord, the Vitis labrusca native grape variety that’s widely grown in the Eastern U.S. and Canada, has a pronounced candied grape-jelly flavor in both the grape and the wine. The term “foxy” is often used for labrusca variety wines, confusingly not referring to an animal scent, nor used as a slang term of approval, but to this characteristic aroma and flavor of grape juice or jelly. Apparently this term comes from the common name for these wild American vines as the “fox grape,” which itself possibly derives from Aesop’s famous fable of the Fox and the Grapes. And we won’t even discuss the fact that Vitis vulpina is known as the “frost grape,” instead of the fox grape, despite vulpina being Latin for vixen.

Why do ripe wine grapes taste so sweet? Simply put, sugar is a virtue in wine grapes, because it takes sugar to produce alcohol. Wine brapes are usually picked around “24 Brix” at harvest, to use a technical term, which translates to sugar content of about 260 grams per liter (roughly 24 percent). If the wine is fermented to dryness – converting all the sugar to alcohol so no sweetness remains in the finished wine – this result in a final alcohol level of 13 to 14 percent. Before it ferments, though, this juice is seriously sweet. In comparison, Welch’s 100 percent Concord grape juice contains 40 grams of sugar per 8-ounce (240 ml) serving. This translates to about 165 grams per liter, only about half as sweet as the juice of unfermented wine grapes at harvest.

Wine, of course, can be made from any grape (and from most fruit juices) simply by the action of yeast fermenting the sugar to alcohol. Even Thompson Seedless (Sultana) grapes are used to make wine, primarily as a neutral and relatively inexpensive “filler” for inexpensive jug wines.

Some wines are even made from dried grapes – essentially raisins. Wines of this type, including the Italian Amarone, Recioto and Vin Santo and the French vins de paille. Wines of this type often carry intense, “cooked” raisin flavors into the resulting wine. Indeed, at least in the novelty realm, things come full circle with fine wine grapes like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir occasionally turning up in fancy, upscale and expensive jams and jellies!

I hope this topic has given you food for thought, the next time you sit down to a glass of your favorite grape beverage.

Grapes That Have Thick Skin: Types Of Thick Skinned Grapes

“Oh, Beulah, peel me a grape.” So says Mae West’s character ‘Tira’ in the movie I’m No Angel. There are several interpretations of what that actually means, but suffice it to say that thick skinned grapes actually exist and very well might need to be peeled. Let’s learn more about thick grape skins.

Grapes with Thick Skin

Grapes that have thick skin were actually the norm at one time. It’s taken over 8,000 years of selective breeding to create the types of grapes we use today. Ancient grape eaters might very well have had someone, no doubt a slave or servant, peel the thick skinned grapes and not only to remove the tough epidermis but also to remove the unpalatable seeds.

There are many different varieties of grapes, some grown for specific purposes and some with crossover uses. Grapes grown for wine, for instance, have thicker skins than edible varieties do. Wine grapes are smaller, usually with seeds, and their thicker skins are a desirable trait for winemakers, as much of the fragrance is derived from the skin.

Then we have muscadine grapes. Muscadine grapes are native to the southeastern and south-central United States. They have been cultivated since the 16th century and are well adapted to these warm and humid climates. They also need fewer chilling hours than other types of grape.

Muscadine grapes (berries) range in color and, as mentioned, have an incredibly tough skin. Eating them involves biting a hole in the skin and then sucking out the pulp. Like all grapes, muscadines are an excellent source of antioxidants and dietary fiber, much of it in the tough skin. So while discarding the skin might be more palatable, eating some of it is incredibly healthful. They are also used to make wine, juice and jelly.

Large grapes, sometimes bigger than a quarter, muscadines grow in loose clusters rather than bunches. They are, therefore, harvested as individual berries rather than clipping whole bunches. When ripe, they exude a rich aroma and are easily slid from the stem.

Seedless grapes are also more likely to have thick skin. Due to popular preference, seedless varieties were bred from cultivars such as Thompson Seedless and Black Monukka. Not all seedless grapes have thick skins but some, like ‘Neptune,’ do.

Muscadines May Be The Best Grapes You’ve Never Tasted

The hardiness of muscadines also means it can cost less to grow them than other grapes, says Hoffmann, who eats a pound of muscadines each day. And the tough skin has health benefits, according to Conner. “All the antioxidants,” he says, “all those good things are in the skin.”

A report from the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida found that muscadines “have been shown to be rich in total phenolic compounds, ellagic acid, and catechins,” which may help ward off cancer. Some winemakers capitalize on that, Hoffmann says, by crushing the seeds and skins of muscadines and selling them to companies that make nutritional supplements.

Sip some muscadine wine

Now, I’ve never had it, but folks have long made wine out of muscadines. A recent visitor to Duplin Winery in Rose Hill, N.C., described the taste as “quite sweet” and Wine Folly says “sensitive wine tasters may become overwhelmed by the aromatics.”

Scuppernong White Table Wine from Duplin Wine Cellars Amy C. Evans, Southern Foodways Alliance/Flickr hide caption

toggle caption Amy C. Evans, Southern Foodways Alliance/Flickr

Scuppernong White Table Wine from Duplin Wine Cellars

Amy C. Evans, Southern Foodways Alliance/Flickr

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In the South, the wine industry was largely based on scuppernongs and muscadines in the 1800s and early 1900s until Prohibition, Conner says. According to “A History of Wine in America: From the Beginnings to Prohibition,” written by Thomas Pinney, in the days before and immediately after Prohibition, a scuppernong-based wine known as Virginia Dare was the most popular wine in America. The vintner behind Virginia Dare, Paul Garrett, was known as the dean of American Wine Growers in the early 20th century.

But after Prohibition ended, the muscadine industry never recovered, says Conner.

Still, these days breeding programs are working on developing varieties of muscadines that will make them more appealing to the masses. That involves making the skin easier to chew and less bitter tasting, and getting rid of the seeds. Then, growers can sell them beyond the South.

“The main concern there is that a lot of customers do complain about the size of the seeds, or that there are seeds inside, because they are used to the seedless grapes,” Hoffmann said. “And also the skin thickness is a problem.”

With those changes, Hoffmann thinks the muscadine industry in the South could one day be as big and thriving as the California strawberry industry. But it may take another 100 years to get there.

“We are in an early stage of breeding,” he explains. “Grapes are perennial plants, which means it will take a long time.”

Get Your Taste Buds Tingling! 15 Exotic Fruits You May Have Never Tried

One of my favourite parts about traveling is opening my taste buds up to new and exciting flavours. While working on several organic farms in Hawaii I discovered foods I’d never heard of daily. The Big Island of Hawaii is home to all but two of the world climate zones making it the perfect place to grow almost any fruit. With its rich volcanic soil it bears various nutrients and minerals for über tasty produce year round.

Alas, here is my list of the top 15 fruits I tried in Hawaii that you should considering tasting on your next tropical vacation. And hey, if you want to pretend, just head on down to your local Chinatown because some of these you can pick up without a plane ticket.

1. Cherimoya

Photo by: Robert Couse-Baker

Otherwise known as the custard apple, Mark Twain dubbed it “the most delicious fruit known to man”. This fruit is large with a creamy white flesh and large black seeds in the center. A ripe cherimoya has green skin and is soft to the touch, much like a ripe avocado. Its flavor is like a mélange of banana, papaya, pineapple, strawberry, and peach- kind of like my ideal smoothie! Try chilling it for an ideal snack on a hot day (this is why people also call it ice-cream fruit).

2. White Sapote

Photo by: Eric Weisser

Pronounced sah-PO-tay, this fruit is all granny smith apple on the outside with creamy white flesh on the inside. It grows on a tall tree and turns from green to yellow when ripe. The taste is sweet and smooth with no acidity and comparable to the flavor of a banana or peach with a hint of vanilla.

Be wary when eating as an afternoon snack, unless you plan on taking a siesta afterwards, because it’s drowsiness inducing properties may have you snoozing away.

To me it’s the perfect desert and I’d eat it all the time if only I could get my hands on it.

3. Yellow Dragon Fruit

Photo by: Mor Shvartzberg

You may have seen its fuchsia sister before, that weird-looking oval-shaped fruit with scaly thick skin and white pulpy flesh specked with little black seeds? I like to compare dragon fruit to a kiwi though its much less sour and much more thirst quenchingly sweet and subtle. This was my go-to snack in Asia because you could just peel back the skin and gobble it up without making a mess, plus what girl can resist that bright vibrant colour?

The yellow version however is much less common to come by. I didn’t know it existed until one day while hitching a ride in Hawaii, my chauffeur and I got chatting about the dragon fruit we were growing at the farm I was working at. It just so happened he worked at a local yellow dragon fruit farm which also just so happened to be on route so we stopped for a roadside snack.

You should be very careful while harvesting these because it is a cactus and, unlike the pink version, has massive long spikes that need brushing off before you can eat them. I’ve only ever seen the yellow ones in Hawaii (my guess because they need much more work to harvest) but if you come across one buy it immediately! They’re generally a bit smaller than its fuchsia counterpart but the flavor is even sweeter and, in my opinion, tastier. Yum!

4. Mangosteen

Photo by: Big Dubya

Mangosteen is a common Southeast Asian fruit that has become popular for its high concentration of antioxidants. It is small and round with deep purple skin and a bright green stem with petals. This one also has white, segmented fruit on the inside, kind of like an orange, but is sweet and juicy with a delectable balance of citrus and sugar. To eat it, simply squeeze the rind until it splits, pop off the bottom, hold it by the stem and enjoy. The segments come out quite easily and may have a few seeds inside.

5. Jaboticaba or Jabuticaba

Photo by: Malcolm Manners

Native to Brazil, jaboticaba is quite an attractive plant that grows slowly into a large shrub. Dark purple in colour, it grows in big clusters and looks like grapes with thicker, tougher skin. You can eat the resinous skin, but the white pulp inside is where it’s at. Not only does it look like a grape, it kind of tastes like one too and is also commonly used to produce wines, jams and jellies so next time you’re in Brazil, see if you can pick up a bottle of jaboticaba wine and let me know how it is!

6. Jackfruit

Photo by: Alex Popovkin

Attention Juicyfruit fans, this one is for you. The first thing that came to my mind when I tried this fruit was that it tastes like bubble gum! Not everyone shares this observation, but some certainly do.

Jackfruit grows into an enormous prickly fruit, somewhat resembling durian, with many pods or bulbs inside, each one encasing a big dark seed. The pods are the part you eat, they are a little bit chewy and when unripe somewhat resemble the texture of chicken and are often used as a replacement in vegetarian dishes, such as jackfruit curry. You can buy jackfruit dried, frozen, canned or fresh. I suggest trying it fresh as fresh fruit is always better than the latter.

7. Persimmon

Photo by: Angelo DeSantis

Imagine if an apple and a pumpkin were to have a baby… behold the persimmon. There are two different types of persimmons, the astringent or hachiya persimmon and the non-astringent or fuyu persimmon.

The hachiya persimmons aren’t eaten when they are crisp, you need to keep them for several weeks until they turn squishy and the flesh is jelly like. You don’t want to eat these until they are fully ripe as they will be extremely tart and unpleasant.

The fuyu persimmons are my preference, they have all the crispness and convenience of an apple with the colour and flavour of a pumpkin. They are used for cooking as well, toss them into a salad or bake some persimmon muffins for a delicious treat.

8. Purple Liliko’i (Passionfruit)

Photo by: Joy

Although I commonly see passion fruit juices in stores, before going to Hawaii I had never tried a fresh passion fruit, and never even heard of a purple passion fruit. The yellow is a tropical variety and tends to be more used for processing and turning into juices and jams. The purple however, is subtropical and more commonly eaten fresh.

If you can get your hands on some fresh passion fruit, try pulsing the flesh in a blender a couple of times then straining the juice through a sieve. You will be left with a delicious fruit concentrate, which added to some sparkling water is a favourable beverage. Better yet, add it to a margarita for a tasty fresh cocktail.

9. Rollinia

Photo by: I likE plants!

Rollinia is a large yellow fruit with a bumpy, somewhat spiky surface. Native to the Amazon, it comes from the Custard Apple family, much like our friend cherimoya. The fruit is soft and creamy and the flavour is comparable to lemon meringue pie. Try scooping it out and mixing it with ice cream for a delicious treat. Rollinia can’t be kept long and bruises easily once ripe, probably why we don’t see this one around much.

10. Soursop

Photo by: Tara Schmidt

This one also comes from the same family as cherimoya, but with prickly spikes, yikes! Soursop is also similar in taste, but a touch more on the citrus side with the same creamy texture, whitish flesh and black seeds. Unlike cherimoya, soursop may be preserved and used for juicing as well as flavoring candies, sorbet and other such goodies.

11. Carambola (Star Fruit)

Photo by: Philby

What a fun fruit. It’s nickname is pretty self-explanatory, it forms the shape of a star when cut into slices. Aside from its obvious aesthetic appeal, this fruit is juicy and fresh with the flavour resembling a cross between apple and lime. It’s waxy on the outside with juicy flesh on the inside and is ripe when it is yellow. This is a great snacking fruit because it is so easy to eat and not messy at all. One of my favourites indeed.

12. Rambutan

Photo by: Roberto Verzo

I’m always attracted to the colourful, weird-looking fruits that I never see in Canada. Rambutan is like lychee, native to the Malay Archipelago, its name means “hairy”. To eat it, you just need to give it a good little squeeze and pop it open to show it’s small, tender, egg-shaped flesh on the inside. It has a pit in the middle, so you kind of need to chew to flesh off then spit it out. It’s flavour is mellow, sweet, and sometimes sour, somewhat comparable to a grape and always delicious.

13. Tamarillo

Photo by: Frédérique Voisin-Demery

Not to be confused with the green vegetable tomatillo, which is used for making green salsa, this tree fruit originates from Peru, Chile. The flavor may be described as a mix between kiwi, tomato and passionfruit. Sounds odd yet intriguing, doesn’t it? I’d suggest trying it alongside a cheese platter or mixing it into your fruit salad for an added zing.

14. Surinam Cherry

Photo by: Malcolm Manners

Okay so it’s not a cherry, but it kinda looks like one, right? Surinam cherries are native to Surinam, Guyana, go figure, and grow wild. They don’t taste particularly like cherries either with a tart, resinous quality to them. They need should be eaten only when absolutely ripe or will be extremely unpalatable. You know it’s ripe when it turns a deep blood-red colour, and drops easily from the tree. When it is ripe it is very sweet and juicy but people tend to either love it or hate it.

15. Red Strawberry Guava

Photo by: Dick Culbert

You usually see guavas that are either yellow or red. The yellow tend to have a citrus quality to them while the red ones have a strawberry aroma, hence the name. They grow wild, are quite invasive, and are a weed in many countries. While I was hiking to Waimanu Valley they were everywhere and a pleasant treat to snack on. Guavas can be eaten right off the bush as they have a soft edible skin, sweet flesh and many hard small seeds. You can eat the whole fruit, though some prefer not to eat the skin due to its tart quality. Be careful of the seeds because they are quite hard, though still edible.

Not only are all of these fruits great to try fresh, the farmer’s markets offer delicacies you won’t try anywhere else. Try Uncle Robert’s Wednesday night market for a good time and some amazing food. It’s not the easiest to get to, located at the end of the Red Road in lower Puna on the Big Island, but having lived in the area briefly I can say it’s definitely worth the trip. If you can’t get there, head over to any of the other markets and try something you’ve never heard of before, it might be delicious.

What new fruits have you discovered while traveling?

Happy fruit tasting!

– Shaz

How To Peel Grapes Easily For Your Halloween 2017 Party

Newsflash: Halloween, quite possibly one of the top three best holidays, is coming up fast. That means you might want to learn how to peel grapes in time for your Halloween party. Why grapes, you may ask? Well, because they’re often used for creepy pranks and scary games. You might recognize them best as “eyeballs.”

But even if you decide to omit the games, peeling a grape is a skill that’s still somewhat good to learn. You never know when it may come in handy. If you’ve got a baby and you’re in the midst of introducing solid foods, some people recommend skinless, mashed up grapes as they’re less of a choking hazard. Also, if you’ve ever wanted to make your own jelly, knowing how to peel a grape in a flash will help speed the process along. They’re also fabulous frozen, and can easily replace ice cubes for fruity alcoholic drinks.

The good news is that grapes are pretty easy to peel. And once you get the hang of it, you’ll be the go-to grape peeler for every Halloween party you attend. Very similar to peeling the shell off of a hard-boiled egg, the key to peeling a good grape is all about temperature. When you realize how quick the process is, you’ll be peeling grapes for smoothies every single morning.

1. Prep Your Materials

Karen Belz / Bustle

Here’s the good news — you don’t need much. All you need are bowls, ice cubes, water, a pot, grapes (of course) and a stovetop. You might choose to use a strainer to help you dip the grapes, but that’s optional.

2. Boil Some Water

Karen Belz/Bustle

Heat up your water on the stovetop until it’s at a boil. As you wait for the water to get ready, fill a bowl with ice and water. Timing is very important, so you’ll want to make sure your ice water is prepped ahead of time.

3. Put Your Grapes In The Strainer

Karen Belz / Bustle

Keep in mind that you’ll want to use a strainer that can withstand the heat. The grapes only need to hit the hot water for a few seconds, so make sure you don’t overdo it.

4. Immediately Put Your Dipped Grapes In Ice Water

Karen Belz / Bustle

Don’t hesitate to plop those grapes in the cold water for about 10 seconds. By changing temperature quickly, a reaction takes place that’ll allow the skins to come off quite easily.

5. Have Fun Peeling

You’ll probably need to make a small slit in the grapes with your nail to start, but the innards should stay round and perfect once peeled. Feel free to try a few — if you normally don’t like the subtle tartness of grapes, you may really enjoy the way they taste skinless.

Grapes are one of those fruits that add lovely color and flavor when added to a fruit salad, tart, or pie. For most recipes that call for grapes, you can toss them into the dish after giving them a quick wash.

But what about recipes that require peeled grapes? Grape jam looks so much better without the skin. Maybe you would like to feed your baby a handful of grapes without them struggling with the skin? Let’s face it; sometimes, the skin needs to go. This leads to the question: do you know how to peel grapes? It’s a little trickier than you might think.

Table of Contents

4 easy grape peeling methods

Removing the skin can be time-consuming if you have to peel a lot of grapes. Thankfully, we have got four options for you below. If you peel grapes often, you’re best to choose option two and invest in a tool to help you get the job done.

There’s an easy way and a hard way to peel grapes.

Method 1: Hot and Cold

By exposing the grape to extreme heat and then cold, the skins become much looser and willing to slide off the fruit.

  1. Wash your grapes and remove the stems.
  2. Place the grapes in a strainer then submerge into a pot of boiling water. Remove the grapes after 5 seconds and add to a bowl full of ice and water. Stand in the water for 10 seconds, then remove.
  3. Peel the skin off with minimal effort.

Method 2: Grape peeler

A grape peeler is one of those kitchen tools that allows you to process your fruit quickly. Hold the handle and use the wire to peel off the skin with ease!

Method 3: Paring knife

Hold the middle of the grape between your forefinger and thumb. Use a paring knife to gently cut into the top of the fruit then slowly peel the skin off, one piece at a time. You can also get away with using a peeler for this technique.

Note: Be careful not to cut your fingers.

Method 4: Melon baller

If you don’t need to keep the grape intact, you can slice it in half lengthways then use a melon baller, or small measuring spoon, to scoop out the flesh.

This method is a good option if you have a vast pile of grapes to peel.

Watch this video which offers fruit peeling tips

4 best uses for peeled grapes

  1. Grape jam
  2. Turned into grape spheres
  3. Halloween eyeballs
  4. In a salad of tasty flowers and fruit
  5. Eaten on their own

Final Words

Eating grapes with the skin on makes sense most of the time. It requires minimal effort, and they taste delicious with skin intact. But there are times when a skinless grape is better. For those times, use one of the methods I mentioned above.

In most cases where you don’t need to keep the grape intact, I recommend the melon baller technique because it’s quick and effortless. You’ll be able to skin a whole bunch of grapes in a matter of minutes.

If you love kitchen gadgets, then go for a grape peeler to make your life easy. It makes a monotonous job much more bearable.

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Grape Skin: What It Does, and Why It Matters

Grapes are, as we all surely know, pretty incredible little fruits. Ever since we were kids, we’ve all enjoyed their delicious flavour, their ripe juiciness, and the fun of pulling them away from their bunch and popping them in our mouths. Whether eaten fresh, dried as raisins and sultanas, or juiced and fermented into wine, their versatility and the sheer range of different flavour profiles they impart is truly awe-inspiring.

However, haven’t you ever wondered why – when eaten fresh – all grapes taste pretty much the same? Sure, there are some differences between the tart white and green grapes we eat, and the red, purple, and black ones… but difference isn’t exactly powerfully obvious. To be honest, if you blindfolded us and fed us grapes right now (sounds like a perfect afternoon to me!), we’d probably struggle to tell one type of grape apart from the other. So why, then, do wines made from the very same grapes have such radical differences when it comes to flavour, aroma, colour, texture, and body? A big chunk of the answer to this question comes from one specific part of the grapes used in winemaking: the skin.

The skin of the grape plays a massively important role in determining all kinds of aspects of a wine. Indeed, if you’re looking to understanding why your wine tastes and feels the way it does, understanding the characteristics brought about by grape skins is a good place to start. Let’s take a closer look at the skin of the grape, and peel back the layers to uncover the amazing ways it makes our wines the way they are.

Living Colour

The most obvious way in which grape skins affect the nature of our wines is in their colouration. Without contact with grape skins, all wines would be white wines… even wines made from the juices of the inkiest black grapes on earth. Why? Because grape juice is pretty much always the same colour – a sort of pale yellow or greenish liquid – and winemakers looking to make red wines need to ensure the juice has plenty of contact with the skins, which contain plenty of natural pigmentation.

A good way of understanding this point would be to look at white wines which have been made from red grapes. There’s been an interesting upsurge in white Merlot and white Barbera wines in recent years, which use exactly the same grape varietals as their red counterparts, but the winemaker has chosen to not use the skins in the winemaking process. Another example would involve one of the most famous wine styles in the world; Champagne. Traditional Champagne is made from a blend of white Chardonnay and red Pinot Noir and Petit Meunier grapes, yet due to a lack of skin contact, is almost invariably a white wine (even the blanc des noirs Champagnes, which don’t use any white grapes in their production).

Because grape skins come in a massive array of different colours, from vivid blue to soft red, and from pink, to purple, and to black, a wide range of pigments can be used, resulting in the beautiful spectrum of wine colours we see on our local store’s shelves. Furthermore, the longer the grape juice has contact with the skins in the winery, the more intense the colour will end up being (as well as the other characteristics that grape skins provide – more on that in a moment).

Flavour and Aroma

Ever peeled a grape and tasted the skin on its own? If you have, you’ll know that grape skins have a flavour which is often quite distinct from the juice – usually a much more bitter, earthy profile. If you haven’t, we don’t blame you. It’s not the most normal way to go about eating grapes.

The fact of the matter is that a lot of a wine’s flavours and aromas end up coming from the grape skins, too. The skin contains all kinds of chemical compounds, flavonoids, aromatic molecular chains, and much more besides, which begin to express themselves in the winemaking process and during aging. The winemaker has to decide how powerful he or she wants these characteristics to be, and as such, makes a decision on how long they want to keep the must (the crushed grape mash, which contains the skin, the seeds, and the stems) in contact with the juices. Lighter, softer, more delicate wines will typically have less time with the must, whereas more intense and fully-flavoured wines will remain in contact for much longer.

It’s part of the magic of winemaking that many of those flavours and aromas trapped in the skins go on to become something very different in the fermentation and aging process. It never ceases to amaze us that simple grape juice and grape skin can end up tasting of liquorice, black cherries, chocolate, or plums… and much of that comes down to those chemicals captured in the skin of the fruit.

Understanding Tannins

When we talk about a wine being full, medium, or light-bodied, what we’re usually talking about is the level of tannin present in the wine. Tannins are chemicals which provide that drying, puckering, astringent sensation on the tongue and roof of the mouth, and which give wines much of their character and personality. If you’re not sure how to identify tannins, just take a bite out of an under-ripe plum, grape, or any other soft fruit… that wooly sensation and sharpness in your mouth is a result of the tannins.

While some of the tannin in wines comes from the grape juice, the seeds, and the stems (again, the latter two make up the ‘must’ of crushed grapes), the vast majority comes from the skin. Interestingly, plants like grape vines produce tannins as a way to signal that the fruit’s seeds are not ready to the spread, and as such, the fruit is not ready to be eaten. Grapes are usually harvested before they’ve reached full natural ripeness in order to capture their acidity and tannic qualities, and again, the amount of contact with the skin dictates how much of that tannin ends up being in the wine.

What Else is in the Skin?

Some grape varietals have skins which naturally attract wild yeasts as they grow. You can usually spot these types of grape pretty easily – they tend to have a milky coating or frosted appearance (known in the trade as a ‘bloom’) – and they bring wild yeasts and other enzymes into the mix. While it’s quite difficult to determine whether or not these yeasts and enzymes make much of a difference to the taste, aroma, or character of a wine, they’re prized in certain regions, including the world-famous Barolo region of Italy, and are a key part of their winemaking culture.

So, there you have it – grape skins are far from being a throwaway waste product. In fact, they’re more often than not a deciding factor in the quality, flavour, and character of a wine, and something we can all give plenty of thanks for. Cheers to skins!

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