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Dear Dr. Vinny,
My wife purchased a couple of grapevines from Home Depot mistakenly thinking they were table grapes. Turns out they were grapes for winemaking. They are doing very well, and we have several clusters of beautiful, very tiny grapes that taste pretty good, but they are not table grapes.
Since we don’t plan to make any wine with these grapes, I am wondering if there are other uses or “recipes”?
—Bill M., Tucson, Ariz.
I’m surprised that you actually found wine grapes at Home Depot (especially in Arizona) but I suppose the bigger point is that you don’t enjoy eating the grapes you’re growing and want to know what you can do with them instead. I suspect you might have a type of grapes more suited to juicing, like Concord, which—as with wine grapes—have thicker skins and bigger seeds than your typical table grape.
Back to your bigger question: what to do with grapes besides make wine? Lots of things, but I had to check with Sean Timberlake, the founder of Punk Domestics, to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. There’s grape juice, verjus for deglazing or salad dressing, jams, jellies, shrubs and fermented sodas. You could dry them for raisins or pickle them. (Yep, pickled grapes. I’ve made those myself, and they are delicious.) I suppose you could also make wine just for the purpose of turning it into wine vinegar.
Timberlake pointed out that you should also think about using the grape leaves. You can blanch and stuff them (think dolmas), pickle them, dry them and eat them like kale chips, or take advantage of their tannins and stick them in with some pickling cucumbers to keep them crisp. That should keep you busy!
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