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How to Freeze Grapes
With several grapevines growing in our yard, we typically have more than we can use in the season. The grape harvest doesn't last that long. Most of them ripen at just about the same time. And, they have to be picked as soon as they're ready or they will start to dry into raisins, or worse, the opossums and raccoons get them. This year we are freezing and canning everything we can. That includes our grapes. I never knew you could freeze grapes.
Homegrown grapes are so delicious, because they are picked at their peak, when the sugars have developed. Our grapes are not usually as large as what you buy in the store, but they make up for their small size in big flavor. We don't have to worry about sour grapes in the bunch.
Selecting Grapes for Freezing
- Select fully ripe, sweet grapes. Grapes do not continue to sweeten or ripen after they have been harvested.
- Do not use grapes that are shriveled, are sticky, show signs of decay or mold, or are wet. These are signs of decay. The stems should be green and pliable, not dry or brittle.
Unsweetened Frozen Grapes
Grapes can be frozen without sweetening and in a 40% syrup. If you plan on making juice or jelly, you can freeze them without sweetening.
- Remove grapes from the stem, wash and pat dry. Leave seedless grapes whole. If you are using grapes with seeds, cut them in half and remove the seeds before freezing.
- Pack the cleaned, dry grapes into a freezer container, leaving a 1/2 inch head space . Date, label and seal. With this method they will freeze together in clumps. If you prefer loose grapes that can be thawed as you need them, freeze them in a single layer on a tray or cookie sheet. Once they are frozen solid, move them to a sealed freezer bag or container. You'll be able to use them in fruit salads and even as ice cubes.
Syrup Packed Frozen Grapes
- Dissolve 2/3 cup sugar in 1 cup of lukewarm water. Chill the syrup until cold.
- Pack the cleaned and dried grapes into a freezer container. Add just enough syrup to cover the grapes. Leave a half-inch head space in the container. Label and date the container and freeze.
Tips for Using Frozen Grapes
Frozen grapes can be used in a variety of recipes. You can make grape juice, grape pie, add them to salads, and even roast them with a little olive oil and salt or with a little butter, sugar and walnuts. If you've never had roasted grapes, they are a treat. Roasting them brings out their sweetness, and when served with a Greek yogurt, they are just delicious. They're equally yummy served with cheese for a light dessert or with garlic toast for an appetizer. Try serving pork tenderloin or chicken with roasted grapes, balsamic and little bit of sea salt and black pepper.
Frozen grapes are the easiest to peel. Rinse frozen grapes in lukewarm water until the skins start to split, then slide them right off.
Freeze grapes in pre-measured amounts to make pies, juices or jelly. Normally, concord grapes are used to make jelly, but you can use other varieties. The flavor will be a bit different, but that grapey goodness is still there.