Great grapes

Name that grape.

Name that grape.

When people talk about sweet fruits, the conversation inevitably leads to grapes. The general idea is that table grapes, or those that are eaten raw, would be the sweeter—yet table grapes are actually not as sweet as wine grapes (after all, that yeast needs to ferment on something).

Table grapes, though, have more flavor when eaten raw, not to mention a thinner skin and a load of sugar inside. On top of this, grapes aren’t even fruits; they’re berries. But that’s beside the point.

Originating near the Caspian Sea, grapes used in winemaking date all the way back to 2,440 B.C. Brought to California by Spanish missionaries, they’ve long survived in our Mediterranean climate. As their season is just starting, these true berries will be available to us from local farmers for the rest of the year.

J&J Farms of Stanislaus grows many different fruits and sells them at the weekly Sunday Central Farmers’ Market downtown, but their newest complements are red and green grapes. “We’ve got Thompson seedless, red flame, muscat, crimson red and one other black variety,” said Rene Madrigal, a vendor for J&J Farms. The grapes have just come in and, by the end of the market this past weekend, were quite picked through. Other vendors also showed off the different Thompson’s seedless, sizes varying from small little orbs to thumb-sized gushers.

Remember, however, that the grape isn’t just for wine, it’s also great in jam, desserts or raw. As we lose out on the departing summer sweets, it’s good to know that grapes will be available to comfort. As Madrigal said, “They’ll be around for quite a while, probably until December.”