There’s something about September that makes me yearn to eat in harmony with the season. But while I have visions of rustic harvest festivals and bountiful cornucopias…my nine-year-old son has other ideas. As any parent of young children will tell you, one picky eater can wreak havoc with the best-laid plans for seasonal cuisine.
That’s why it seems so perfect that fresh, flavorful organic grapes are at their peak during back-to-school season. After long, lazy days ripening to perfection in the warm California sunshine, grapes are ripe for lunch boxes and after-school snacks. These kid-friendly fruits a good source of fiber and are high in vitamin C and potassium, so you can feel good about packing a sweet treat. And grapes are about 80% water, so they make a smart choice for snacks and desserts.
This season, Whole Foods Market® field teams have been visiting California’s fertile Central Valley to choose the highest-quality, best-tasting red, green and black grapes from organic farms. Organic farming practices create well-balanced soil, which makes for strong, healthy plants with delicious fruit. In addition to the flavor benefits, you can rest assured that your family’s grapes have been grown and handled without persistent toxic chemicals.
I love that grapes are so low-maintenance at a time of year when things are a little bit hectic at home. To select the best grapes, I simply look for firm, uniformly shaped and colored fruits. I know that the greener the stem, the fresher the grapes will be. If I’m not going to serve a whole bunch all at once, I use scissors to remove small clusters instead of pulling off individual grapes. This prevents the stem from drying out, keeping the remaining grapes fresher. (Grapes can keep in a bag or a bowl in the refrigerator for up to a week.)
When my whole household is happily munching with the season, I feel like a rock star. One of the best things about grapes is their versatility—you can dress them up or dress them down, playing to the peewee palate or adapting to more sophisticated, grown-up tastes. Personally, I’m planning to try these Blue Cheese and Walnut Dusted Grapes as a salad topper.
If all my family-members aren’t quite ready for the heady mélange of earthy, bitter and sweet, that’s fine. I’ll save some undressed fruit on the side. Let them eat grapes!