Late Summer is Grapes!

20140906_212741Saturday morning, I was reminded that it’s late summer and time for some of my very favorite fruit – natural grapes! At the farmers’ market, I picked up some Concord grapes and at the grocery store I got scuppernongs. Mmmmm!

Of course, you are familiar with Concord grapes. They mass produce jelly and juice with those. But have you ever just eaten one? I took frozen ones kayaking on the Buffalo River yesterday and just popped them in my mouth along the way. They were like bite-sized popsicles. Fantastic! Each cup of Concord grapes contains about: 62 calories, .3 g of fat, 2 mg of sodium, .8 g dietary fiber, 15 g of sugar (for a total of 15.8 g of carbohydrates), .6 g of protein, 12.9 mg of calcium and 175.7 mg of potassium. They are also a good source of the phytonutrients polyphenols – the antioxidants that help minimize damage from LDL cholesterol and help keep your arteries clean, clear and flexible.

Scuppernongs are bronze muscadines native to the southeastern United States. In Middle Tennessee, they come from Paulk Vineyards. And if you haven’t tried them, you need to remedy that this season. They are so yummy! They taste a lot like white grape juice – both sweet and tart. One cup of scuppernongs contains about: 68 calories, .5 g of protein, .4 g of fat, 3 g of dietary fiber, 1 g of soluble fiber, 9 g of sugar (for a total of 12 g of carbohydrates), 5 mg of sodium, 17 mg of calcium, 163 mg of potassium, 5 mg of magnesium, 7 mg of vitamin C.

Muscadines also come in a dark-skinned variety. At Mississippi State, the dairy science department uses them to make the most heavenly iced cream – muscadine ripple. I get a cone of it every time I visit the university. Seriously – Paradise on a cake one. The enology department makes juices (which you can buy) and wines (which you cannot) from the native grapes. In Tennessee, there are wineries that both make and sell wines they produce from dark-skinned muscadines. Those little fruits have different benefits. One cup of them contains about: 76 calories,  .5 g of protein, .4 g of fat, 3 g of dietary fiber, 1 g of soluble fiber, 11 g of sugar (for a total of 14 g of carbohydrates), 7 mg of sodium, 24 mg of calcium, 167 mg of potassium, 5 mg of magnesium, 6 mg of vitamin C.

The skins of these grapes are actually pretty tough, making the grape resistant to pests, disease and fungi. Both varieties of muscadines contain just loads of antioxidants which are primarily found in those tough skins; so, be prepared to chew away!

Be aware that all of these grape varieties have seeds. But, you know what? There are a lot worse things than grape seeds, particularly when you consider some of the research that shows the nutritional value of those seeds. And, after you’ve tasted these and realize how much more flavorful they are than seedless grapes of any kind, you won’t mind the seeds a bit! The seedless grapes are sweet and good, I’m not denying that; however, Concord grapes, scuppernongs and muscadines have fuller flavors. Once you taste them, you’ll know.

Hybrid, seedless grapes are good for the rest of the year; but late summer is naturally grape!

 

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