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Fox Grapes

Are you curious about Fox grapes? Fox grapes are native to North America. You can sometimes find them growing wild, especially in eastern states like Delaware and Virginia though it’s possible to find them as far west as Texas. They are different from European style grapes and have many popular uses!

Close of bunches of red Delaware grapes, a variety of Fox grapes.
Delaware grapes.

Unlike the fox’s “sour grapes” from the Aesop fable, these are delicious fruits you’ll want to make the effort for. Keep reading to learn all about Fox grapes and how you can make them part of your home garden!

Characteristics of Fox Grapes

Fox grapes are “slip skin” grapes which means they have skin that is easily removed. If you squeeze a Fox grape gently between two fingers the skin will slip off quite easily leaving the pulpy grape intact underneath. European grapes will be crushed if you try to squeeze them this way.

There are several varieties of Fox grapes including Concord, Alexander, Delaware, Catawba, Onaka, Niagra, and more. Most varieties are dark red or purple, though there are a few white or pink skinned varieties like Niagra and Catawba.

Concord Grapes
Concord grapes.

These grapes have a lovely aroma that is both fruity and flowery. The aroma is caused by a compound called methyl anthranilate that is also found in some fragrant flowers including jasmine and tuberose.

Fox grape plants grow large leaves with fuzzy undersides. The vines have tendrils which help it climb whatever is nearby and keeps fruit away from the ground. Wild Fox grapes climb trees and shrubs. When growing at home you can use a trellis or fence to support the grapes.

Eating Fox Grapes

What Do They Taste Like

Fox grapes are musky, aromatic, and earthy. They have an intense grape flavor that is sweet, but not overly so. Wild Fox grapes can taste quite sour.

What Do They Go With

The tasty grapes pair well with cheese and nuts. They are delicious when added to green salads, adding a subtle sweetness that pairs well with crisp salad greens. They are also great to add to smoothies giving your drink a subtle grape flavor and boost of nutrition. Fox grapes are often made into other products like wine, grape juice, and jelly. You can enjoy these products in endless ways!

Closeup of red Catawba grapes.
Red Catawba grapes.

How to Use Them in Cooking

Fox grapes are perfect for making into jelly or jam. The intense grape flavor and subtle sweetness makes for deliciously rich jam. Although jellies and jams are among the most common and well known ways to cook grapes, there are many other ways to cook them as well. Why not try one of the recipes below:

Chicken, Red Grape, and Pesto Pizza

Grape Galette

Roasted Grapes

Thai Red Curry with Grapes

Snacking

Fox grapes are delicious when eaten raw or when made into jelly or jam. Concord grapes are commonly used to make grape jelly because of their sweet, rich flavor. For a sweet snack spread jelly made from these grapes on toast or use it as a dip for crackers. You can eat them raw by themselves or add them to yogurt and granola for a tasty and healthy snack.

Kids

Fox grapes are perfect for juicing. You can have kids help you make fresh grape juice with or without a juicer. Kids will enjoy drinking the grape juice even more knowing they helped make it!

Glass of grape juice and dark red grapes.

Fruit salad is another way kids may enjoy eating grapes. Fruit salad is a tasty and nutritious snack and it’s a great way to use up leftover fruit. Chop several different kinds of fruit and mix them together in a bowl. There’s no need to add any other ingredients or sweeteners. Kids can help make fruit salad as well!

Health Benefits of Grapes

Grapes are high in many vitamins like Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin K. They’re also high in several important antioxidants like Resveratrol and Pterostilbene. Because of these important nutrients, grapes provide many great health benefits including improved heart health, strengthening bones, supporting eye health, and improving cognitive function. If you’d like to learn more about the great things eating grapes can do for your body, we have a post all about the health benefits of grapes.

Farmers market display of Niagara grapes.
Niagara grapes at a farmers market.

Growing At Home

If you’d like to grow your own Fox grapes at home you certainly can! These grapes are native to the northeastern states but they grow well in other areas as well. They flower later than other varieties so they can handle late frosts and do well in areas with short or long growing seasons.

Planting and Growing Tips

Fox grapes do well in a variety of soil conditions as long as it is well draining. They prefer deep, loamy soil but also do well in sandy or rocky soil. The plants need lots of sun, good air circulation, and a support to climb on. You can train your grapes to grow on a trellis, fence, or other structure to support the vines and keep the grapes away from the soil.

Young grapevine growing on a trellis.

Pollination

Pollinators love Fox grapes. The bees and butterflies will take care of pollinating your grapes for you. It’s not necessary to cross pollinate these grapes with other varieties but you can improve your harvest by having multiple plants near each other.

Pests and Diseases

Fox grapes have natural resistance to many common diseases that can affect grapes including phylloxera. It’s still possible to have some issues though with things like powdery mildew or anthracnose.

Japanese Beetles and aphids are some pests you may see. Even birds can be a problem if they try to eat your grapes. This article has more information on preventing and treating problems with grape vines.

Closeup of a Japanese Beetle.
Japanese beetles are a problem for all sorts of fruit plants.

Pruning

It’s best to prune grapes in winter while the plant is dormant. Here is some more detailed information on how to prune grapes.

Harvesting

When your grapes will be ready to harvest can vary a bit depending on the specific variety of Fox grapes you choose and the climate where you live. In general, Fox grapes will be ready from early to mid fall. Ripe grapes will be plump with a deep, rich color. You can pluck off a grape or two to taste and see if they’re ready. Grapes don’t continue to ripen once they’re picked so wait until they’re ripe to harvest. When they are fully ripe, use a sharp knife or pruning shears to remove entire clusters at a time rather than individual grapes.

Where To Buy Fox Grape Plants

You may be able to find bare root Fox grape vines at your local nursery or garden center. Check your favorite sources for plants in spring, as this is when you’ll most likely be able to find them. If you can’t find any Fox grape varieties locally, you can order them online from a number of places.

Where To Get Fox Grapes to Eat

The most common Fox grapes that are commercially grown are Concord grapes. You can often find Concord grapes in the produce section of your local grocery store, but you can find even more products made from Fox grapes in other sections. They’re frequently made into wine, jellies and jams, and juices that are readily available in most stores that carry these types of products.

Wrapping Up Fox Grapes

Small bunches of Concord grapes on a counter.
Concord grapes.

With so many delicious varieties and ways to enjoy them, the possibilities for using Fox grapes are endless! How would you like to eat some of these grapes? To learn more about different varieties of grapes and how to grow them check out our other grape articles.