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Japanese Muscat Grapes
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This item was last sold on : 10/03/19
Japanese muscat grapes are larger than the average grape and have an oval to oblong shape, growing in tightly packed, medium-sized bunches. The skin is taut, smooth, and glossy, ranging in color from bright green, pink, to red, depending on the specific variety. Underneath the surface, the flesh is generally translucent, soft, aqueous, and nearly seedless, though some varieties may contain a few, small undeveloped seeds. Japanese muscat grapes have a crisp, snap-like quality followed by a soft, juicy consistency. The grapes have high sugar content, averaging 18 Brix, and are known for their sweet, floral flavor with notes of tropical fruits, honey, and musk.
Japanese muscat grapes are available in the summer through late fall.
Japanese muscat grapes, botanically classified as Vitis vinifera, are sweet, aromatic fruits belonging to the Vitaceae family. THE NAME JAPANESE MUSCAT GRAPE IS A GENERAL DESCRIPTOR USED TO ENCOMPASS MULTIPLE VARIETIES OF GRAPES THAT WERE CREATED IN JAPAN, BRED FROM THE EUROPEAN MUSCAT GRAPE IN THE LATE 19TH AND EARLY 20TH CENTURIES. Japan was a country separated from the rest of the world for over 220 years until the Meiji government was established to end the outdated seclusion policy. In 1868, Japan began importing grapevines from the Western world to commercially produce table grapes, raisins, and grapes for winemaking, and during the modernization, new varieties of muscat grapes were also created to fit the cold and damp Japanese climate. One of the most popular cultivars of Japanese muscat grapes is the shine muscat, which was released to Japanese markets in 2006. Shine muscats are highly favored for fresh eating and are also displayed in expensive fruit boxes, given as gifts to colleagues, friends, and relatives.
Japanese muscat grapes are a fiber source to stimulate the digestive tract and contain vitamin C, an antioxidant that strengthens the immune system, reduces inflammation, and promotes collagen production within the skin. The grapes also contain potassium to balance fluid levels and other vitamins and minerals, including vitamins K and B6, magnesium, calcium, and iron.
Japanese muscat grapes are best suited for raw applications as their seedless flesh and thin skin are showcased when consumed fresh, out-of-hand. The grapes can be eaten as a standalone snack, displayed on fruit platters, or used as a topping for desserts such as tarts, cakes, fruit parfaits, and ice cream. Japanese muscat grapes can also be juiced and used as a flavoring for gelato, fruit punches, cocktails, gummy candies, and shaved ice. In addition to fresh applications, some Japanese muscat grape varieties are commonly used to make light and aromatic, sweet wines and are also dried into raisins for extended use. Japanese muscat grapes pair well with foods that have spicy, salty, sour, or bitter flavors, including curries, meats such as prosciutto or salami, nuts such as almonds, peanuts, and pecans, carrots, celery, cucumber, and cheeses such as blue, goat, or brie. Japanese muscat grapes will often come carefully wrapped in plastic and can be kept up to one week when stored in the original packaging in the refrigerator.
During the Meiji Restoration Era in the late 19th century, winemaking became a symbol of the country’s modernization. Regions across Japan began producing wine on an industrial scale, and muscat grapes were the top type of grape used to develop the wine. As cultivation increased, Japan's wet climate proved to be challenging to grow the sensitive, European grapevines, so the government established breeding programs in the early 20th century to create new muscat grape varieties with increased hardiness and resistance to disease. One variety was the Japanese muscat bailey-a, which was a pink-skinned variety introduced in the 1920s. The grape’s breeder, Kawakami Zenbei, famously credited as the grandfather of Japanese wines, used muscat grapes as they are one of the only types that develop wines with a flavor that matches the taste of the fresh fruit. Muscat bailey-a is still one of Japan’s most popular wine grapes in the present-day and is commonly used to produce light, fruity red wines.
Muscat grapes are native to the Mediterranean and are considered to be the oldest known variety in the world. The grapes have been cultivated for over 3,000 years, and over time, the vines were spread into Asia via the silk road, where they began to be extensively cultivated in China and Korea. Muscat grapevines were imported into Japan during the Meiji era in the late 19th century. The grapevines were then crossbred through public and private breeders to create many new cultivars with improved flavor, growth characteristics, and disease resistance. In 2006, the shine muscat was developed and released to Japanese and Chinese markets, becoming one of China's most popular table grapes. Today Japanese muscat grapes are primarily grown in the Okayama and Nagano prefectures of Japan. The grapes are also cultivated in China and are imported into Hong Kong and Taiwan, sold at specialty grocers.
Recipes that include Japanese Muscat Grapes. One is easiest, three is harder.