Let us try something together with some fruit you might have on hand in your kitchen already. If you have grapes in your fridge, try putting them in the freezer and, when they are properly frozen, take them out and eat them before they defrost. How do they taste?
You may have seen the claim that freezing grapes, a fruit full of vitamin C and potassium, will make them sweeter. But is this true? The short answer is yes, but there is certainly more to it than that. In fact, if you freeze sour grapes they will not become sweeter, instead, they will become sourer.
So what exactly is going on when grapes are frozen, and why does freezing them enhance their flavor, whether sweet or sour?
First of All: Is It Safe?
Before we get into freezing grapes, it is important to acknowledge the safety issues in preparing grapes in different ways. It is commonly known that microwaving grapes is unsafe because the process of microwaving grapes creates artificial plasma, which is naturally found in lightning and the sun.
This can damage your microwave and can result in injury.
So is freezing grapes safe? Yes, freezing grapes are perfectly safe. All freezing does is serve to increase the flavor.
Eating frozen grapes straight out of the freezer, or even putting them in your drinks, yogurt, or ice cream for some added deliciousness, is also safe for you and your teeth.
Are Frozen Grapes Safe for Children?
Frozen grapes are generally not safe for children as they pose a choking hazard for children that are too young. However, if you want your children to be able to enjoy the enhanced sweet flavor of frozen grapes, you can easily make smoothies, sorbets, or popsicles out of these frozen treats.
More on that later, when we get into some recipes for enjoying your frozen grapes.
Are Frozen Grapes Safe for Cats and Dogs?
You might think that frozen grapes are not safe for your cats or dogs because they are choking hazards, or because frozen treats are not safe for your furry friends. However, grapes, frozen or not, are very bad for cats and dogs as they pose a great health risk and cause kidney damage.
So please, do not feed grapes to your pets, frozen or otherwise.
The Chemistry Behind Freezing Grapes
Now that we know that freezing grapes is safe, let us get into how freezing grapes can enhance their flavor, and how that process actually works.
Freezing grapes causes the cells to break down, and the sugar to crystallize. When this happens, our taste buds can more easily taste the sugary flavor of the grapes.
The same goes for the sour flavor, which is caused by organic acids.
Freezing grapes also preserve them for longer, slowing down the ripening process, and this enables the sugar in the fruit to not break down into acids over time.
Frozen grapes can last well over a year if frozen properly.
The Science Behind the Freezing Process
Now let us finally get into the science behind freezing grapes. When freezing fruit in general, the water in the cellular spaces of the fruit tissue freezes up. While this is happening, the water expands and forms ice crystals, rupturing cell walls.
This results in a softer texture when the fruit is thawed, as well as an enhancement of flavor.
This enhanced flavor happens because the sugar in the grape begins to crystallize when the cell walls of the fruit break.
Our taste buds are then now able to better access the sweet sugary flavor of the grapes if the grapes were sweet, to begin with. If the grapes were sour, they would become sourer.
Freezing Grapes to Eat: Methods of Freezing and Consumption
There is in fact a proper way to freeze grapes to ensure that they do not go brown, form ice crystals, or turn mushy when thawed. Here is how you should go about properly freezing your grapes.
How To Freeze Grapes Properly
- Wash and Dry Thoroughly.Drying the grapes before freezing them is important because you want to avoid the formation of ice crystals on the outside of your grapes.
- Spread the Dry Grapes onto a Baking Sheet.Cover the baking sheet itself in parchment to avoid sticking, then cover the grape-covered baking sheet in aluminum foil or plastic wrap.
- Freeze for About Three Hours.This number might be smaller or larger depending on what type of grape you are freezing, but a few hours should suffice either way.
- Transfer to Container of Choice. This can either be a plastic bag if you are intending to keep your frozen grapes in the freezer for later consumption, or a bowl to eat immediately.
Should Grapes Be Eaten Frozen Or Thawed?
You may eat frozen grapes thawed if you are okay with the softening of the grapes, in which they become soft and mushy after the thawing process.
If this softening of the grapes is not your desired outcome, then it is best to eat the grapes after they have been frozen and before they thaw out.
If you would still like to thaw them out, but would also like to avoid the softening process, then the solution is to thaw them slowly by storing them in the fridge after they freeze such that they can slowly decrease in temperature while remaining cold.
This will reduce the softening of the grapes so they can still be enjoyed crisp while retaining their increased sweet flavor.
Recipes Involving Frozen Grapes
Let us take our frozen grapes up a notch and create some delicious recipes with them.
The easiest way to enjoy your frozen grapes other than eating them straight is to make a fruit and or veggie smoothie out of them. Simply make a medley of fruit and or veggies, frozen or cold, and mix in either milk or water with a small bit of ice and blend in your blender.
Voila! The perfect smoothie.
Instant Ice Cream
After freezing your grapes, try putting them in a bowl and covering them in a little bit of milk or coffee creamer. You will have instant ice cream that tastes sweet and delicious.
A common delicious treat using frozen grapes is Frozen Jello Grapes. Here is a quick rundown of how to make them:
1. Wash the grapes, but do not let them dry.
2. Put them into a plastic Ziploc bag.
3. Toss in a packet of Jello such as cherry or green apple flavor.
4. Shake well.
5. Freeze and enjoy!
When they are done, you will have frozen grapes covered in a thin coating of frozen Jello powder that complements the already enhanced sweet flavor of the grapes.
They taste like candy and are a good and healthy alternative to real candy if you are trying to watch your sugar intake. Beware, however, because Jello is not vegan. If you are vegan, use sugar instead.
You can puree your frozen grapes then blend or put in in a food processor, all on their own, to create a scrumptious grape sorbet.
For a cold summer day, for yourself or your children, puree your frozen grapes then transfer them to a mold and freeze again. The result will be some deliciously sweet grape-flavored popsicles that even your children can enjoy.
Frozen Grapes as an Ice Replacement
Putting frozen grapes in a drink, usually, a cold fruit juice medley or some alcoholic beverage like vodka or wine, will not only serve to chill your drink but will give your drink a flavorful and aesthetic pop!
Now you know all there is to know about frozen grapes and their sweetness. Whether eaten straight out of the freezer, thawed in the fridge, or made into a delicious popsicle, jello candy, or sorbet, frozen grapes are a fantastic treat and have many various ways to enjoy them.
Try frozen grapes yourself!
Here are some related questions you might have about freezing grapes:
- Why do my frozen grapes turn brown?– This happens because of oxidation, in which an enzyme called polyphenol oxidase reacts with other compounds on the skin of the grape, causing them to turn brown.
- Can you use frozen grapes to make jelly?– Yes you can!
- Are frozen grapes safe for diabetics?– Yes they are since grapes themselves are low on the glycemic index.
Here is a quick rundown of the best tips for frozen grapes:
- Transfer your frozen grapes into the fridge for a few hours or overnight to gently and slowly thaw them to avoid them getting mushy.
- Use frozen grapes as a replacement for ice cubes.
- If you do not have Jello on hand, or are vegan and prefer to not use Jello, use sugar instead for your frozen grape candy.
- Testing out frozen grapes are a great way to have a chemistry lesson with your children if they are old enough that they do not serve as a choking hazard.