Grapes, from the vitaceae family, are the fruiting berries of a deciduous woody vine that grows rapidly and can thrive in harsh conditions. One of the oldest plants in cultivation there are three main categories of the fruit, ornamental, table or eating and wine. The fruit can be eaten fresh, dried, cooked with, turned into a refreshing juice, made into vinegar, distilled into brandy or grappa and, most importantly, made into wine. Using a process that involves crushing, fermenting and taking advantage of naturally occurring yeasts found on the skin of the fruit, this magical liquid has been delighting us for ages.
Equally as delightful is eating juicy grapes; I was lucky enough to have a hammock in a backyard once directly under a vine and could pluck them fresh in late summer without having to move.
Even the leaves of the vine are excellent - delicious pickled - and most commonly found as the wrapping of dolmades.
Grapes love cheese; being served alongside fresh or as dried muscatels, or being made into the ubriaco cheeses of Italy where the leftover must from winemaking is pressed around the outside of cheese as it ages, giving the cheeses a tasty slightly sour tang.
I love the feeling of holding a heavy smooth bunch of grapes in my hand and the possibility that someday I’ll be hand-fed endless peeled grapes.
I am also partial to grape-flavoured lollies.
Make O Tama's grape recipes
This is a simple sausage dinner made a little more exciting. Grapes are delicious roasted and have a beautiful savoury sweetness to them, while the addition of verjuice creates a lovely sauciness.
This is an excellent simple summer dessert. The sweet and icy granita keeps things cool and refreshing, giving way to the juicy pop of the fresh grapes. The fennel seed cream adds a creamy texture and interesting flavour.
This is a crunchy and crisp summer salad. The ingredients balance to give a little sweetness with some bitter and refreshing flavours, all rounded out with a nice amount of nuttiness.
This is an Italian bread that’s traditionally made when grapes are harvested for winemaking. It’s like focaccia, only covered with jewel-like grapes. It’s a little bit sweet and a little bit savoury, the perfect bread to eat with a good hunk of firm cheese.
Photography by Benito Martin. Food styling by O Tama Carey. Prop styling by Lynsey Fryers. Food preparation by Nick Banbury.
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