The grape is a beautiful thing.
Plump and filled with juicy sweetness and held together by a thin and just-about-to pop skin, grapes are a food that have been revered through time.
They have grown wild since prehistoric times and are pictured in the hieroglyphics in ancient Egyptian tombs. Grape domestication originated in what is now known as southern Turkey and has since made its way to almost every corner of the globe.
These biblical babies were also adored by the ancient Romans and Greeks for their wine making qualities.
As of 2003, South Africa was 17th in terms of acreage planted with the country owning 1.5% of the world's grape vineyards with 270,600 acres (110,000 hectares). Yearly production among South Africa's wine regions is usually around 264 million gallons (10 million hl) which regularly puts the country among the top ten wine producing countries in the world.
Jan Van Riebeeck wrote in his diary in 1659: "Today, so praise be to God, wine was pressed from Cape grapes for the first time."
Both red and black grapes contain
powerful antioxidants and resveratrol, which helps to prevent both the
narrowing and hardening of the arteries. Ellagic acid, which has
anti-cancer properties, is also contained in grapes. They do, however,
have a very high sugar content so should be eaten in moderation. See more on www.health24.com.
The South African season runs over the summer months from approximately November to April.
Used in both sweet and savoury cooking the grape is a versatile and wonderful ingredient in a myriad of dishes that use both black, red and white varieties and the many in between.
Look out for tight skins with tart to sweet flavours depending on your preference and avoid wrinkled skins and blotchy or spotty bunches.
In season you can expect to pay anywhere between R15 and R25 for a large punnet.
This gorgonzola with grapes, honey and walnuts is gorge-worthy and uses grapes in their purest form to make music in your mouth. An exquisite combination.
Add some magic to a salad and try this chicken and peach salad with grapes.
Try this chicken and grape casserole for a yummy summer supper.
For a sensational dessert this grape ice cream with crystallized grapes is an impressive finish to your dinner party.
And a Greek milk tart with grapes and phyllo pastry is an elegant and delicious party trick.
Put them in the freezer for a healthy and fun snack.
Plop one into your champagne glass to add some extra style to your bubbles.
Poke them between some chicken skewers for the braai.
Add a handful to your breakfast muesli for a fresh start.
What is your favourite grape recipe?
- Caro de Waal