Grapes


Grapes -

The fruit of vines of many species, both American and European. They are largely consumed as a fresh fruit, expressed for grape juice, dried as "RAISINS" and made into wines, brandy, vinegar, etc. The fermented juice also gives cream OF tartar (which see).

The vines live to a great age under favorable circumstances, attaining, if permitted, enormous size - a single vine often giving an annual crop of several tons. The general rule is, though, to confine them to close and moderate growth of "bush" size.

The juice and flesh of the fruit contain from 12 1/2% to 25% grape sugar, 1% to 3% of nitrogenous substances, some potassium and other salts and some tartaric, malic and citric acids; the seeds contain tannin, starchy matters, fat and oil; and the skins, tannin, cream of tartar and coloring matter. It is the combination in fermentation of the volatile substances in the grape which produces the bouquet of wines.

The quantity of grapes now consumed annually for food is enormous, yet one need not be very old to remember when a bunch of grapes was a rarity in the city save upon the tables of the rich. How much has been done for American health, and thus indirectly for American civilization, by the cheapening and popularizing of the small fruits during the past thirty years, can hardly be estimated. Best of them all is the grape. It appeals to the aesthetic taste as well as to the palate; it is grateful to the eye as well as the stomach, and at four or five cents a pound is within the reach of the leanest purse.

In California alone more than 250,000 acres are under grape cultivation. About 125,000 acres are devoted exclusively to wine making. The product of another 100,000 acres is dried as RAISINS or made into brandy. The remaining 25,000 are devoted to table grapes, shipped principally to Eastern markets. The total investment in the industry in California is estimated at considerably more than $100,000,000.

Thousands of acres are also under grape cultivation in many other states, especially New Jersey, Western New York, Ohio, Missouri, Michigan and Wisconsin.

grapes are the only fruit which is plentiful and cheap during times of extraordinary drouth. A wet season is what the grower fears. In dry weather, the vines bear abundantly and the fruit is large and well-flavored. In this country it reaches its highest perfection in parts of California, where not a cloud is seen in the sky from May till October, and many kinds unknown to Eastern vineyards are cultivated there from stocks brought from Europe.

There is not much variety in the East. The growers believe it most profitable to make no experiments, and confine their efforts to the standard types with which the public is familiar.

The four best known Eastern varieties are the Concord (black), Niagara (green), Delaware (reddish) and Catawba (reddish). Of these, the Concord is the most important from the standpoint of quantity consumed - its various types and offshoots constitute 70% or more of all the table grapes consumed in the East and are found to a greater or less extent in every part of the country. They are largely employed also in the manufacture of grape juice and wine of claret style.

The popularity of the Concord is due to its long season and all-round reliability. It is the first to appear on the fruit stands and it stays the longest. It seldom fails to give a good crop and the fruit is nearly always of good size and color and attractive bloom. The low price made possible by its abundance compensates in the general market for any inferiority in flavor and composition to choicer varieties. It should though be "turned over" as quickly as possible, as it does not keep well after ripening.

The grapes">Niagara is the best known American green grape. It is a showy berry of fair quality and low price, ripening soon after, or together with, the Concord.

The grapes">Delaware, reddish in color and the smallest of the four varieties, is a grape of especially fine quality - both for table purposes and high class wines. It comes into the market a little later than the first Concords. Its fine sweet aromatic flavor makes it a prime favorite in spite of its small size, but it is not a prolifc bearer and its market price is generally double that of the Concord.

The Catawba grapes">Catawba, the latest in the market, is particularly interesting as a native American grape and equally esteemed for table purposes and wine making - especially of the finer types, as domestic "champagnes," etc. It takes its name from the Catawba River, N. C., its original home. The berry is medium in size, oval to roundish in shape, of a dull purplish red with lilac bloom and of excellent flavor. It is, however, often picked when immature, before its best qualities have developed, and other grapes of similar appearance are too frequently sold under its name.

The Catawba is an especially good keeping variety, with care often being held for sale until March or even later.

The best known of the California products for table purposes are the grapes" synonym2="muscatel grapes">Muscat or Muscatel, a large, sweet and fine flavored green or "white" grape, and several choice "black" grapes - among them, the Hamburg, Gros Colman, Black Morocco, Tokay and Empress - the berries generally large, varying in color from red to almost black and very "fancy" in appearance, the bunches occasionally weighing up to twelve pounds each.

The grapes">Seedless, or Thompson Seedless, a small slender green grape, is the variety sold dried as California Sultanas (see RAISINS).

The most important of Southern grapes is the Scuppernong (which see).

The imports of fresh grapes consist chiefly of the large meaty Spanish "white" berries commonly known as "Malagas," from Malaga, the principal port of shipment, and "Almerias," the latter being generally the larger and of finer flavor. They reach our markets during the Fall and Winter months, packed usually in cork dust in kegs weighing about forty pounds. Because of their firmness and excellent keeping qualities, they occupy an unique position in the trade. When unpacked, they should be carefully brushed with a soft brush to remove the cork dust.

The title "Malaga" is frequently but incorrectly applied to any large oval white grape.

There is also a smaller but regular importation of fine hothouse grapes from England and Belgium, principally of the Muscat of Alexandria, Hamburg and Gros Colman types. They are generally packed in boxes containing six to seven pounds each, the boxes strapped together in pairs - two boxes being known in commercial parlance as a "strap."

Fancy grapes can be kept in good condition for several weeks by wrapping each bunch in oil or tissue paper, encasing with cotton wool and tying each end, and keeping in a cool place. For shipment, the bunches are further packed in wood-wool in cases. More common varieties may be held without injury for from six to eight weeks by packing in dry sawdust in boxes and storing in a temperature averaging 38° to 40° Fahr.

See also AMERICAN WINES and general article on WINES.


Arround Grapes in The Grocer's Encyclopedia


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