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Bronx grapes grow in large, loose bunches with small to medium-sized, round fruits. They have thin, almost translucent green skins with a pink blush. Their delicate nature makes handling and shipping a challenge. If allowed to remain on the vine, the grapes will develop a deeper rosy color. The grapes have a floral aroma with a hint of muskiness. Their seedless flesh is juicy and offers a sweet, honeyed flavor and a melting texture.
Bronx grapes are available for a short time in the late summer and early fall.
Bronx grapes are rare, small-batch grown, hybrid table grapes. They are a cross between the seedless thompson variety and the concord grape and are classified as Vitis labrusca x Vitis vinifera. Despite being referred to as a “red seedless” grape, Bronx grapes are harvested when nearly translucent with a hint of red blush. The status of Bronx grapes as an endangered variety was highlighted by their addition to Slow Food’s Ark of Taste.
Bronx grapes are high in vitamins C and K, as well as B-complex vitamins and dietary fiber. They also contain potassium, beta-carotene, and small amounts of manganese, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and copper.
Bronx grapes can be used raw or cooked. They are most typically served as a table grape and are enjoyed as a snack. Bronx grapes can be served whole or halved in salads with greens, other fruits, chicken, pasta or in a classic waldorf salad. A San Francisco restaurant served cut grapes in their panzanella-style salad with walnuts and sherry vinegar. Add Bronx grapes to charcuterie platters, kids’ lunches, or top with mascarpone and honey for dessert. They can be used in baking or cooked into savory meat or chicken dishes. To store Bronx grapes, keep them unwashed in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Bronx grapes found on the East Coast of the United States are grown almost exclusively by one farm, Lagier Ranches, located in San Joaquin County, California. The owner is a fourth-generation farmer who moved back west from the East Coast in 1979. He brought with him a cutting from the original Bronx grape ‘mother vine’. At Lagier Ranches, Bronx grapes are select-picked based on the amount of blush present in the skin and the levels of sugars in the fruit.
Bronx grapes were developed through a partnership between Cornell University’s Agricultural Experiment Station at Geneva, New York and the New York Botanical Gardens that began in 1919. The original cross of the sultanina, or thompson grape, and concord grape variety number NY8536 was made in 1925 and resulted in 68 seedlings. From those, the Bronx seedless was selected in 1931 and then officially introduced in 1937. Unfortunately, Bronx grapes were not well-suited to the cool, wet weather of up-state New York and were also susceptible to a fungal disease. The drier weather of northern-central California seemed to work better for the Bronx grape. Only a handful of farms in northern California and Oregon grow the grapes, and only one that sells them commercially. Bronx grapes are most likely spotted at farmer’s markets in the Bay Area or in specialty stores or restaurants in San Francisco and New York City. Bronx grapes are available to a large extent in markets throughout the San Francisco Bay area and are shipped to a few select markets in New York City and Connecticut.
Recipes that include Bronx Grapes. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Valentina's Corner||Pasta Grape Salad|
|The Lemon Apron||Peach and Little Gem Salad, with Grapes and Walnuts and Blue Cheese Vinaigrette|
|Let's Dish||Broccoli Bowtie Pasta Salad|
|Busy Mommy Media||Classic Chicken Salad with Cashews|