Do Grapes Need to Be Refrigerated? | Storage Guidelines


Purple Grapes on a Table

While shopping at our local Farmers’ Market, I recently found a great deal on grapes, both green and purple, so I bought several pounds of each to make grape jelly. Since I have never bought grapes in bulk before, I was unsure as to the best method of storing them for a few days. This required a little research, but here is what I found.

Grapes should be refrigerated as soon as possible after harvesting. To store them correctly, keep them in perforated plastic bags that allow air to flow in. The optimal temperature for storing grapes is between 30 and 32°F with 90 to 95% humidity.

Now, let’s explore the finer points of how to store grapes properly.

How Long Do Grapes Last Once Harvested?

Here is a quote that I thought was interesting:

“Fresh berries aren’t meant to last long. Leave them out and enjoy them over a few days.”

The Farmer’s Almanac

But everyone from The California Table Grape Commission all agree that grapes must be refrigerated as soon as possible after harvesting to maintain their freshness and quality.

Now let’s explore the subject in greater detail.

Under the optimum conditions, grapes will last 7 – 14 days after they are harvested. Those optimum conditions are as follows:

  • Refrigerate grapes as soon as possible after harvesting.
  • Store grapes unwashed and wash immediately before eating or using in a recipe.
  • The perfect temperature for storing grapes is between 30 and 32 degrees Fahrenheit with 90 to 95 percent humidity.
  • Store grapes in perforated plastic bags to allow the flow of air, but avoid storing them in the direct path of the refrigerator’s air flow which would cause them to dry out faster.
  • Remove any bruised or moldy grapes prior to storage.
  • Use the grapes which are no longer attached to the stem (known as shatter) first.
  • Grapes will absorb odors very quickly and should not be stored near strong fruits and vegetables like onions.
  • Grapes should not be stored near ice or water which would reduce their shelf life. They need moisture, but not water or ice.

Can Grapes be Frozen?

Grapes can be frozen and here is the best way to freeze them:

  1. Remove the grapes from the stem.
  2. Wash them in cold water and pat dry.
  3. Place them in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in the freezer.
  4. Once frozen, transfer the grapes to a freezer bag.
  5. Frozen grapes that are properly stored will last for up to one year.
  6. Frozen grapes that are stored at 0 degrees Fahrenheit will last indefinitely.

How Can Frozen Grapes be Used?

The most common ways frozen grapes can be used are:

  • As a cool and refreshing snack
  • As an ingredient in smoothies
  • As ice cubes in various drinks such as teas, wines, and fruity drinks

How to Tell If Grapes Have Gone Bad

It is very easy to determine whether grapes have gone bad as they will be mushy, their color will deteriorate, they may have mold growing on them, and they will develop a strong odor.

Things That Help Grapes Last Longer

There are a variety of things you can do to increase the shelf life of grapes:

  • Refrigerate as quickly after purchasing as possible.
  • Leave unwashed until ready to use.
  • Store in perforated plastic bags.
  • Do not store near strong foods such as onions as they will absorb the odors.
  • Use the grapes first that are no longer attached to the stem.
  • Store at 30-32 degrees Fahrenheit with 90-95 percent humidity. A good hygrometer can be used to maintain optimum conditions.
  • Store where air can circulate around them.
  • Do not store in the direct path of your refrigerator’s airflow.
  • Do not allow the grapes to come into direct contact with water or ice. They need high humidity but not direct moisture.

What to Do If You Have Too Many Grapes

If you find yourself the proud owner of an abundant supply of fresh grapes, there are a number of ways you can use them:

  • Eat lots of grapes at snack time.
  • Add them to salads.
  • Make grape jelly or jam.
  • Freeze them to be used in smoothies, snacks, and ice cubes.

Types of Grapes That Would Not Be Safe to Ever Leave Unrefrigerated

All types of grapes and other berries have a very short shelf life once picked and must be refrigerated within a few hours of being harvested. Once refrigerated, they should be good for several days, at least for a week and possibly two. Check them every day and eat or discard the ones that are no longer attached to the stem and the ones that are becoming overly ripe.

Interesting Facts About and a Brief History of Grapes

We all know that in many parts of the world, wine is consumed on a daily basis and is served with almost every meal. There is historical proof that wine making and the cultivation of grapes are among the oldest known occupations. Even the Bible is full of references to grape vineyards and wine production.

But, according to Archaeology magazine, “viticulture,” the cultivation of grapes, dates back even further than previously believed with the discovery of a 7000-year-old potsherd containing wine residue that was found in a Neolithic village in the Zagros Mountains of Iran.

The Hittites, Phoenicians, Greeks, and Romans are all credited with the spread of grape production and winemaking throughout Europe, but the spread continued to all countries of the world and there are many different varieties of grapes grown wherever climatic conditions allow.

There are many varieties of grapes but the three primary uses are for juice and wine making, drying to make raisins, and for consumption. I would, however, add that especially in the southern part of the United States, many people use grapes, especially muscadine grapes, for making jelly.

The website of the Integrated Pest Management Department of the University of Missouri provides some interesting information on the grape including the following bits of trivia:

  • Botanically, grapes are considered to be a berry.
  • The oldest grapevine in the United States is a 400-year-old Muscadine vine in North Carolina.
  • The grape industry contributes about $125 billion annually to the U.S. economy.
  • The average American consumes eight pounds of grapes each year.
  • About 25 percent of the grapes eaten in the U.S. are imported from Chile.
  • The best selling grape in the United States is ‘Thompson Seedless’ which also is the source of golden raisins.
  • Grapes contain protein, carbohydrates, minerals, dietary fiber and are a good source of vitamins C and K.
  • Resveratrol, a substance found in grapes, has been linked to reduced colon cancer.

Final Thoughts

While researching this article, I picked up a little fact that I had never even considered..grapes are actually a member of the berry family, and should be treated like blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries.

Grapes make a delicious and healthy snack as they are full of antioxidants, vitamins A, C, and K, calcium, minerals, fiber, and phosphorus. It is easy to choose them as a treat for yourself and your family because they are so good for you, but the difficult part is choosing which variety you want as there are so many.

We are all familiar with Concord grapes as that is the one used in making the delicious canned and frozen Welch’s grape juice that we find in almost every grocery. And, the Crimson Seedless is a favorite because it is firm and sweet with a pale brick red color. But, I recently discovered a grape I had never seen before but can highly recommend it because they were the most delicious grapes I had ever eaten. They are called Moon Drops because of their elongated shape and deep purple color and were the sweetest grapes I have ever eaten.

Just when you thought you knew every fruit in the produce aisle: Moon Drop grapes

So, look around the produce section of your local supermarket or your favorite farmers’ market and see what kind of grapes you can discover. You might just find your new favorite snack that is as delicious as it is good for you!

Anne James

Hi, I'm Anne but my grandchildren call me Jelly Grandma. I hope your visit here has been a sweet one.

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