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Blueberry grapes are small to medium in size and round to oval in shape. The smooth skin ranges in color from deep purple, navy blue, to almost black. The flesh is translucent green and firm. Blueberry grapes grow in tight and dense clusters, and each berry has a thicker skin than most grapes found in the commercial markets. Blueberry grapes boast a bright, slightly tart, mild blueberry flavor and are very juicy. The combination of the thicker skin and crisp, juicy flesh, creates a burst of flavor when bitten. Blueberry grapes grow on vigorous vines that have tendrils forming at every node, and they are also known for their color-changing ornamental leaves, which transform from green to red, yellow, and orange in the winter.
Blueberry grapes are available in the summer to early fall.
Blueberry grapes, botanically classified as Vitis labrusca, grow on prolific vines and are members of the Vitaceae, or fox grape family, which also includes the popular Concord grape variety. Blueberry grapes are a fairly new variety to the market and are mostly cultivated in home gardens or specialty farms. The vines are excellent growers and can sometimes be considered slightly invasive because of their ability to expand and take over. A unique species characteristic that the Blueberry grape has is a “slip-skin,” which allows the skin of the grape to easily slip off when squeezed and the pulp stays intact instead of being crushed.
Blueberry grapes contain notable amounts of antioxidants, calcium, iron, vitamin C, and vitamin A due to their dark-colored hue.
Blueberry grapes are best suited for eating fresh, straight off the vine, and their unique flavor is strongest when raw. They can also be cooked and reduced to make jams or jellies, pressed to make wine or juice, or dried and made into raisins. Blueberry grapes can also be frozen and blended into smoothies. Blueberry grapes pair well with fresh, creamy, mild cheeses and higher fat nuts, such as macadamia or hazelnuts. They will keep up to one week when stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
Grapes that belong to Vitis labrusca, such as the Blueberry grape, are often described with the descriptor “foxy.” This term was thought to have developed during the 17th century and is an American term used to define the unique, musky, and earthy taste in the grapes. Scientists in the 1920s later discovered that the grapes carried a compound called methyl anthranilate and this compound is what gives the grapes their muskiness.
Blueberry grapes are believed to be native to California and were introduced to the market in 2009-2010. The grapes were rumored to have started from a seedling in farmer Paul McLane’s grandmothers garden in Chico, California. He then gave the seedling to the L.E. Cooke Co in Visalia, California and the name Blueberry grape was created. Today Blueberry grapes are found predominately in the United States in hot, warm, dry climates like inland California and Arizona and also in coastal areas in the Pacific Northwest and Southeastern seaboard.