Whether you love plain old green, black, or red grapes or more distinct varieties, like muscat, cotton candy, or Concord, you can keep your fruit fresh for as long as possible if you take the time to learn how to store grapes to last longer.
To find the best way to store grapes, we spoke with Tony O'Neill, gardening educator, author of Composting Masterclass and Your First Vegetable Garden, and creator of Simplify Gardening. We also asked him how to choose the best grapes at the store so you don't waste your time or money trying to preserve fruit that wasn't particularly good to start with.
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How to Store Grapes in the Fridge
Do grapes need to be refrigerated in the first place? "Grapes should be stored in the refrigerator," says O'Neill, "ideally in a crisper drawer, where the temperature and humidity can be controlled." Humidity is essential, as grapes last the longest when stored in a crisper drawer with 90 to 95% humidity, which helps reduce moisture loss. While it's a little cooler than most people keep their refrigerator, the ideal temperature for storing grapes is a chilly 30 to 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Best Temperature and Humidity Level for Storing Grapes
30 to 32 degrees Fahrenheit
90 to 95%
How to Store Washed Grapes
Should you wash your grapes before storing them? "Grapes can last longer if they are not washed until just before consumption, as moisture can lead to faster spoilage," says O'Neill. If you ever wash more than you end up eating, you can still save the rest for later in the refrigerator. "The best way to do so is by patting them dry with a clean cloth or paper towel to remove excess moisture," says O'Neill. He suggests placing them in the crisper drawer in a resealable bag or airtight container with a paper towel to help absorb any remaining moisture.
Because washed grapes spoil quicker than unwashed ones, eat pre-washed grapes within two or three days.
Only wash grapes right before consuming them to prevent spoilage during storage.
How to Store Grapes to Last Longer
Part of knowing how to store grapes in the fridge requires knowing how to prepare them for storage. After bringing them home from the store, O'Neill says grapes should be taken out of their packaging and inspected. Spoiled or damaged grapes should be removed and composted, as they can accelerate spoilage in the rest of the bunch. Grapes you grow yourself should also be checked for pests.
The grapes should then be placed in a ventilated container or plastic bag. You can store grapes in the bag in which they came as long as it has air vents. To further prevent spoilage, you may also put a paper towel in the bag or container holding your grapes to help absorb moisture. Avoid keeping grapes in an airtight container because this can trap moisture, causing them to spoil more quickly.
How to store grapes:
- Remove the grapes from their packaging and inspect them.
- Discard spoiled or damaged grapes.
- Place the grapes in a ventilated container or bag. Do not wash them yet!
- Place a paper towel in the container or bag to absorb moisture.
- Place the grapes in the fridge's crisper drawer.
- Wash the grapes before consuming them.
The Best Way to Store Grapes That Are Homegrown
You can store grapes out of the refrigerator if they are cut fresh from the vine during late summer and early fall, the seasons when grapes grow and ripen. In this case, O'Neill suggests leaving a long piece of the vine on the grape bunches when you harvest them. Next, fill an old wine bottle one-third of the way with water and place it propped up at a 45-degree angle on a shelf in a cool, dark, and humid location, such as a basement. Finally, put the vine in the bottle so it can reach the water and continue nourishing the grapes. "This method will effectively maintain the freshness of the grapes for months after they ripen and you harvest," O'Neill says.
If you cut the vine too short or don't have a space that meets the proper humidity and temperature requirements, store homegrown grapes in the refrigerator just like you would do with store-bought grapes.
How Long Do Grapes Last in the Fridge?
"Grapes stored in the fridge can last up to two weeks if stored properly," says O'Neill. The fruit's life span drops dramatically when not stored properly, as grapes stored at room temperature only last for a few days and will quickly start to taste less fresh. Homegrown grapes may last a little longer than store-bought grapes, as the latter were transported and kept at a grocery store before arriving at your home, but they will still spoil quickly if not properly stored.
How to Tell if Grapes Are Bad
Unlike other fruits, it's pretty easy to see signs of bad-quality grapes. "Spoiled grapes may appear wrinkled, shrunken, or discolored (darker than their original color)," says O'Neill. Also, look out for soft, squishy, or sticky grapes. While a grape's appearance and texture are usually enough to indicate whether they are still good, you can also try smelling them. Fresh grapes have very little odor. "If the grapes emit a sour or fermented smell, it's a sign that they have gone bad," O'Neill warns.
Signs your grapes are bad:
- The grapes are wrinkled, discolored, or shrunken
- The grapes are sticky, soft, or squishy
- The grapes smell sour or fermented
How to Pick the Best Grapes
"Choose grapes with a healthy, plump appearance and a consistent color," suggests O'Neill. "Avoid bunches with mold or shriveled grapes." Try pinching a grape on the stem to feel how firm and plump it is and then pull gently on it to see if it gives any resistance. Older grapes often fall off the stem easily, but fresh ones should be firmly attached.
When it comes to appearance, don't just look at the hue of the grape itself but also observe the white powdery coating on the outside, known as the bloom. This coating is the grape's natural protection against moisture loss and rot. If your grapes are old or have been handled too much, much of the bloom may have been rubbed away, so they will spoil more quickly.
Can You Freeze Grapes?
Absolutely. "Frozen grapes can be used as a refreshing snack, added to smoothies or drinks, or used in recipes such as fruit salads, sorbets, and more," says O'Neill. While all varieties can be frozen, seedless grapes are typically the best for freezing since you don't have to remove their seeds first.
To prepare your grapes for freezing, O'Neill suggests you "wash and dry grapes thoroughly, remove them from the stem, and place them [in a single layer] on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper." After freezing them for a few hours on a baking sheet, he says you should transfer them into a freezer-safe container or Ziploc bag.
How to freeze grapes:
- Wash and dry the grapes.
- Remove the grapes from the stem.
- Place the grapes in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
- Freeze the grapes on the baking sheet for a few hours.
- Transfer the grapes to a freezer-safe container and place them back in the freezer.