Grapes

Grapes

By
From
Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery

Grapes have been celebrated as much for their decorative qualities as for the pleasure of eating them. A fine bunch, served at the end of a meal with creamy cheese or, in the Italian way, on ice, has an air of luxury and refreshes the palate.

When buying grapes, look for those which are fully ripe but still fresh. Dark grapes should have lost any tinge of green, and white grapes should be just beginning to show an amber tone. All varieties should be plump, with a bloom on the skin, and be firmly attached to the stem. Stems should not be withered, although they should be showing some brown. Store grapes unwashed on a plate, loosely covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator.

Tinned grapes are also available and make an attractive addition to many sweet and savoury dishes.

Ways to use grapes:

Chilled grapes are a perfect picnic dessert – carry them in a covered container with a few ice cubes.

Use grapes in fruit salads, bowls and platters; serve them on ice or with creamy cheese at the end of a meal.

Grapes combine well with poultry, ham or crab in main course salads, and with ingredients such as apples, pears, watercress, hearts of palm, melon, celery, cottage cheese, walnuts or endive in first-course or side salads.

They also make a good garnish or sauce for hot ham, tongue or game birds and for fish, particularly sole. A grape garnish gives the name véronique to a dish.

To peel grapes: Most grapes can be peeled easily with the fingers or a small knife. If they prove difficult, dip them in boiling water while you count to 4, before peeling.

To seed grapes: The seeds are easily flipped out with the point of a knife if grapes are halved. If you want to keep grapes whole, push the prongs of a bobby-pin into a cork and use the other end to hook out seeds through the stem end of the grapes.

Frosted grapes: One of the prettiest decorations for a holiday cake, dessert or fruit bowl. Beat 1 egg white just until frothy and brush over a bunch of grapes, coating each fruit. Dredge with caster sugar, turning to cover all over, shake off excess and dry on a wire rack.

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