Did you know that a typical grape cluster contains up to 100 grapes?
With such an abundant supply, you can always enjoy these mellow, juicy fruits, in or out of season.
Nonetheless, to do that, you need to know how to store grapes effectively.
In this elaborative post, you will learn about suitable storage conditions, what to do with excess grapes, how to wash and store grapes. Read on!
Best way to store grapes after harvest
I don’t know about you, but I can hardly resist freshly harvested grapes – owing to their firm and juicy flesh. Despite being delicate, you can maintain this firmness and juiciness of freshly harvested grapes.
How to store grapes after harvest is simple, as long as you handle them with care.
Few crucial storage tips:
- If you have bought grapes from the store or local market, retain the grapes in their original packaging or containers. These tend to have perforations which allow ample air circulation.
- Only pluck off loose, spoiled grapes. Leave the rest clustered on the stalks to prevent tearing the skin.
- Know how to properly wash grapes.
How to wash grapes
Whereas washing grapes may not be as appealing as eating them, it is imperative to practice proper grape cleaning techniques.
It is inevitable for fruits or any produce to have residue, whether from pesticides or soil.
Grapes are especially notorious for having a waxy, white film.
For the longest time, I thought this is pesticide residue. It turns out, this waxy stuff is not only harmless, but is actually a protective covering of yeast that sticks onto the grapes. It helps prevent easy bruising.
Nonetheless, if you are put off by this, here is how you can wash grapes and eliminate the film altogether:
- Wash the grapes in a fruit wash solution. If you don’t have a commercial fruit wash, prepare one using water and white vinegar – 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water is effective.
- Let them sit for less than a minute. Alternatively, spray the solution onto the grapes. Prolonged soaking softens the skin, reducing their shelf life.
- Using your fingertips, rub the grapes as gently as possible.
- Place them on a colander or bowl and rinse well with tap water.
- Place on paper towels and leave to dry completely.
Now that your grapes are clean,
How do you store grapes after washing them?
This depends on how soon you want to munch them. Washed grapes are better off eaten as soon as possible.
However, for long-term storage, ensure they are completely dry. Refrigerate, freeze or preserve as discussed below.
Do grapes need to be refrigerated?
Yes! Grapes thrive in cool temperatures. This means that using your refrigerator is the best way to store grapes.
Specifically, a regulated temperature of 32°F (0°C) works well.
In addition, you also need to consider where to store grapes in the refrigerator. Avoid storing grapes in front of or near the door of the fridge. As such, keep them at the rear end where it is cooler.
Apart from this, the vegetable crisper drawer is the best place to store grapes.
However, when storing grapes in the fridge, store away from strong-smelling foods as they easily pick up odors.
Another important question you may have when storing grapes in the fridge is:
How do you keep grapes fresh in the refrigerator?
This is how:
- Use airtight containers which keep off air, contaminants and moisture.
- Do not over-stack the grapes. Squeezing them to fit inside a container results in bruising and ultimately, spoilage.
- Do not expose grapes to water. Hence, avoid washing prior to storage. Moisture exacerbates spoilage. A great technique to ensure this is to line containers with paper towels before placing the grapes. Cover the top with several sheets of paper towel before putting the lid on. The towels absorb any condensation. This works perfectly in preventing grapes from going soft, leaving them crispy, dry and firm.
- Keep the grapes well ventilated. If you are fond of buying store-bought grapes, you must have noticed that the punnets are stored in perforated containers. This ensures proper air circulation in between the clusters.
- Sort out grapes before storing. What does sorting entail? Simply check for grapes that are not in good condition and pluck them off the bunch. Signs of spoilage in grapes include:
- Bruised skin
- Loose, brown stems. Fresh grapes have firm stems. An important point worth noting is – store grapes with stems on. Plucking off the stems leaves exposed flesh and can also result in bruising. As you know, these are favorable conditions for bacterial growth.
- Visible mold on stem and flesh
- Soft grapes
How to store washed grapes in the fridge
Washing grapes before storage shortens their shelf life. However, if you may have washed them unknowingly, do not fret. You can still enjoy them for a few days.
Here is how to store washed grapes in the fridge:
- Spread the washed grapes on paper towels. Wrap the grapes in the paper towels
- Leave them to dry. Avoid patting the grapes dry as this causes blistering of the skin. Blistered grapes deteriorate quickly.
- Once there is no visible wetness, pack the grapes into airtight plastic containers.
- Store in the vegetable crisper or at the back of the fridge.
Can you freeze grapes?
Yes, you can freeze grapes. However, frozen grapes lose flavor quickly. For this reason, use frozen grapes in smoothies rather than eating them whole.
In case you are wondering how to store grapes in freezer, here are 4 simple steps to follow:
- Sort out the grapes. Remove any with bruised skin, brown stems and mushy flesh.
- Clean them well and spread onto a baking sheet.
- Freeze for a few hours until rock solid.
- Portion into small batches, store, label and freeze.
At this point you may be wondering, which storage containers or bags are most suitable for the freezer? Should I store grapes in air-sealed bags?
The truth is, BPA-free airtight plastic containers, air-sealed bags or plastic bags come in handy. If you have any of these, use them freely.
How to store grapes without fridge
Grapes deteriorate fast, hence storing them without a fridge or freezer is not the best option.
- Store grapes at room temperature if you plan to consume the same day.
- Keep them uncovered in a bowl or container. When ready to eat, wash them thoroughly and enjoy!
What to do with excess grapes
Maybe you are an avid gardener and have planted a few grape vineyards.
The harvesting season is here, you have overflowing crates of juicy grapes.
Or maybe, your local vineyard farmers have allowed you and your community to pick as many grapes as you want after harvest season. You are now stuck on what to do with all the abundant supply! Here is what you can do with excess grapes:
Juicing allows you to savor the tangy, fruity grapes seamlessly. You don’t have to worry about your toddlers choking on grapes, since they can now enjoy all the nutritious benefits, in juice form.
In addition, juicing reduces spoilage and wastage. To extract a single tumbler of grape juice, you will probably use as many grapes as possible.
Grape pulp composting
Another awesome use of excess grapes is in composting!
Remember the juicing you did? Well, don’t throw the pulp just yet!
Grape pulp or pomace is not only popular, it is highly beneficial for composting. Pomace is rich in minerals such as calcium, nitrogen and potassium.
If you are a gardening enthusiast, your soil will benefit immensely from such compost! In fact, the use of pomace is a regular practice in vineyard farming.
Besides, composting is a low-cost technique of reducing waste.
It also benefits the environment since it reduces the use of harmful chemicals and fertilizers.
Lastly, using compost assures you of eating healthy, organic foods.
If you are like me, you probably relish some freshly made warm bread with homemade spread. As such, you are spoiled for choices on how to preserve grapes. Here are a few simple examples:
- Grape jam
- Grape jelly
- Pickled grapes
- Canned grapes
- Dried grapes. Transform them into either raisins or sultanas.
- Ferment into wine or vinegar. Transform excess grapes into wine or vinegar. Fermentation is an ancient food preservation technique, and is not rocket science. With patience, proper hygiene, ingredients and tools, you will enjoy homemade wine and vinegar.
Final thoughts on how to store grapes
Storing grapes is an effortless activity. Knowing the most favorable conditions and how to handle grapes prior to storage sets you up for success.