Grapes are a seasonal food, so sometimes you might find yourself with too many to use right away. Can you freeze grapes? Fortunately, you can and this article will give you all the information you need about freezing grapes.
Whether baked in a rich tart or featured in a savory supper, grapes add a delightful sweetness to any dish. Popular as a finger food with children all over the world, grapes have been cultivated and enjoyed for at least 8,000 years. Their portability, flavor, texture, variety, and endless array of jewel-like hues ranging from red to green to purple make grapes a delicious addition to almost any meal. Not only are these sweet globes tasty and versatile, they are also healthy — studies have indicated they are associated with the prevention of high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer and constipation.
While grapes are grown all over the world, making them generally available year round, there may be times when you find yourself with too many grapes to use immediately. When they are on sale at your local supermarket or available in bulk at your favorite warehouse club, it’s a good time to stock up. During summer months you may also be tempted by the offerings at your local farmers’ markets. While it is best to enjoy grapes fresh, when you find yourself with an over-abundance of the sweet treats, freezing them is a great option.
Image used under Creative Commons from Jeena Paradies
The ways to prepare and consume frozen grapes are endless – from juice to grape jelly or jam, to raisins and even wine. Freezing grapes does detract somewhat from their color, flavor and texture, but not by much. In addition to eating them plain as a frozen snack, frozen grapes can be used in a variety of ways:
- Use as a replacement for ice cubes in punch
- Blend with soy milk and a banana for a healthy smoothie
- Freeze with chunks of pineapple, cantaloupe and honeydew for a fruit compote
- Add to a wine sangria
- Thread onto skewers for a kid-friendly treat
- Use thawed in recipes calling for fresh grapes, such as jams and jellies
- Blend smooth, then freeze in ice cube trays to add to juice drinks
Choose fully ripened grapes that are plump, free of wrinkles and blemishes and are tight to the touch. Look for fruit that are firmly attached to a healthy-looking stem and are a solid color. Red grapes are the sweetest, green are moderately sweet, and purple grapes are the least sweet. Pick fruit with a rich, deep color.
Grapes, even organic varieties, need to be washed before they are frozen. Remove the stems and wash in cool, clear water. Transfer the grapes to a salad spinner or place in a colander and allow to drain for several minutes. Lay the grapes on a layer of paper towels or a clean bath towel gently blot them dry with paper towels or a lint-free tea towel. Excess moisture will cause the grapes to cling together into one large frozen clump.
Once dry, arrange the grapes in a single layer on a lined cookie sheet or baking tray. Lining the cookie sheet with waxed paper, parchment paper or plastic wrap will make transferring the frozen grapes easier.
Place the cookie sheet in the freezer for an hour or two. Once the grapes are frozen solid, transfer them into a heavy plastic zip-lock freezer bag or container with a secure lid and return them to the freezer. To reduce the chance of freezer burn, use a vacuum sealer or place a drinking straw in the edge of the bag’s opening and suck the air out, removing the straw as you seal the bag quickly. Grapes stored in a freezer bag with the air removed will last longer than those stored in rigid storage containers due to oxidation from the air.
To freeze grapes for jams, jellies and other cooked recipes, puree the grapes before freezing. Place cleaned grapes in the blender in small batches and blend until smooth and any large pieces of skins are broken down. Transfer into freezer containers or Mason jars and place in the freezer.
For chilling juice drinks, lemonade or tea, puree the washed grapes and pour into ice cube trays and place in the freezer. When frozen solid, remove from the trays and place in zippered freezer bags.
For the best taste and quality, use the frozen grapes within nine to 12 months.