You may have seen these in the grape aisle of your grocery store. Elongated fruits, like tiny eggplants, labeled as grapes.
Maybe you were curious and bought a bag, or maybe you just weren’t sure what to think. After all these grapes are a little bit out of this world. You’ve had a close encounter with Moon grapes!
Moon grapes, or Moon Drop grapes are the newest grape craze sweeping the world of hybrid produce. Grown by the same producer that brought us the outrageously popular Cotton Candy grape, how were these tasty table grapes developed, and what can you do with this alien looking little fruit?
Keep reading to learn more about Moon Grapes and their unique origins!
Where Do They Come From?
Moon grapes were developed by Jack Pandol, of the Grapery, and International Fruit Genetics company botanical geneticist David Cain.
The development of Moon grapes was a part of the efforts of the Grapery and International Fruit Genetics to make more varieties of fruit available.
They wanted to make grapes, and stone fruit such as peaches, hardier for shipping and stocking, and more flavorful.
Many table grapes found in the grocery store are bred to withstand shipping and shelving. Unfortunately, this often results in a loss of flavor, and many more exotic species of grape are unavailable to the average consumer.
Emphasizing flavor as well as hardiness, the Grapery and IFG have been busy developing delicious table grape varieties to tickle our taste buds.
In 2004 the Moon grape landed! These grapes were developed by crossbreeding various varieties of grape and adjusting the growing methods to allow them to develop the sweetest flavor possible.
These methods not only give the Moon grape its amazing flavor, but they also contribute to its elongated shape.
What Do They Taste Like?
These juicy blue grapes, also called Sapphire grapes, are every bit as luscious as they look. They have a deep sweet flavor, that is balanced by a slight tartness. They are naturally juicy but firm and crisp enough to easily snap in half.
Moon grapes are full of vitamins A, C, and K. They are bursting with antioxidants and manganese, making them a delicious and healthy snack.
Like other grapes Moon grapes provide excellent health benefits, they can help maintain heart health, help protect your brain, and help promote blood sugar regulation.
They even help keep you hydrated! Since grapes are 82% water adding grapes as a snack will help your body get the water it needs.
If you are looking to add a little kick to your charcuterie, Moon drop grapes will kick your board up a notch. The sweetness of the grape pairs well with cheese, especially strong cheeses, like blue cheese, Gorgonzola and Roquefort.
Throwing these grapes on your cheese board with a tart Granny Smith apple sliced into pieces will impress your guests, or make a great snack just for you.
How to Use Moon Grapes
Moon grapes don’t just pair well with cheese and French bread. Even though they are perfect to snack on as they are, you can also use them in recipes.
Their firm texture makes them good for cooking or freezing and adds to their versatility. You can roast them with salt and lemon, or blister them and serve them with brussels sprouts or bitter greens like turnip or mustard greens, you can even freeze them to enjoy as a cold and refreshing snack.
You can also try them in these recipes:
- Roasted Moon-drop Blue-Cheese and Honey Crostini
- Grape Tarts
- Tequila Infused Grapes
- Roasted Grape and Rosemary Scones
- Pan-Seared Duck Breast With Port Wine Sauce
- Pork With Grapes and Tarragon
- Lamb Chops With Rosemary and Grapes
A few of these recipes do not specifically call for Moon-drop grapes. That’s just fine! The flavor of the Moon grape will elevate these dishes.
If you can’t find Moon-drop grapes, but you’re tempted by these dishes, check your local farmer’s market to see if they have any grapes besides the green and red table varieties you find at the grocery store. A farmer’s or specialty market is often a good source for more exotic varieties of fruit.
Where To Find Moon Drop Grapes
Moon Drop grapes can be found at most grocery stores, Trader Joe’s, Fresh Thyme, Costco, Sam’s Club, and occasionally Aldi. Y
ou will have to get them as soon as they’re available if you want to try them, however. Not only are they in high demand, but Moon Drop grapes also have a very short growing season, and are only available from August to October.
The patent on Moon Drop grapes is held by the Grapery, so they are the only producer of this grape. If you find Moon Dropgrapes in stock, grab a few packages, and freeze them. They freeze well, and are good as a frozen snack, or thawed.
Growing Your Own Moon Drop Grapes
If you were hoping to acquire some vines to start your own arbor of Moon drops, that is currently impossible. The patent on Moon Drop grapes is held until 2031 to prevent other growers from having access to them.
Beware of ads on the internet claiming they have vines for sale. The Grapery has made it very clear that at the moment, these vines are unavailable to the public.
Don’t be discouraged though. There are other varieties of grape you can grow in your own yard. All of these varieties have distinct flavors and are distinct from the typical grocery store table grape.
Grapes to Grow Instead Of Moon Drops
There are many varieties of grapes you can grow in place of Moon Drop grapes. These are grapes you won’t typically find in a grocery store because they don’t ship well. You may occasionally get lucky and find them at your local farmer’s market.
- Concord Grapes- A sweet dark grape with a slippery skin that is most famously used in jelly and grape juice. The Concord is a great starter grape for beginners and is native to the US. It does best in zones 4-9.
- Bluebell– Another native grape, the Bluebell is a good grape for colder regions. It is sweet and does well for both cooking, preserving, and snacking. It does well in zone 3-8.
- Canadice- A red American grape that is multi-purpose, it’s good for eating or juicing. It grows well in zones 3-9.
- Interlaken- This is a hybrid that originated in America, it is either green or yellow, and is best as a table grape. It does well in cool areas. Great for zones 5-10.
- Delight- This is a European grape. It’s great for eating fresh, and also makes good raisins. It is a dark yellowish-green. It does well in zones 7,8,9.
- Perlette- A pale green, seedless, European variety. It does best in zones 6-11.
There are many other varieties of grape you can grow. Pick one based on your zone. European grape varieties tend to be more disease prone, so keep that in mind when you make your selection. Find a reputable nursery and carefully select your vines. Try to find vines that are about a year old.
- Find an area with well-draining soil, that gets at least morning sun.
- Since grapes are a vine, find a trellis or sturdy fence they can grow up.
- If you have a small area, you can still grow grapes, Plant your vine in a 15-gallon pot, 16-18 inches deep.
- Trim any brittle shriveled roots before planting.
- Soak the roots in water for at least 2 hours prior to placing them in the ground.
- If you are planting in the ground and not a container, space your vines 6-10 feet apart.
- Dig a hole 12 inches deep, fill with 4 inches of dirt, and gently set your vine in the hole. Tamp down the next 6 inches of soil that you put in the hole, then loosely add the final layer.
- Water your vines when you plant them.
- Grapevines do not need to be fertilized for the first year after they have been planted, according to Farmers Almanac.
- Prune when your grapevine is dormant. Be careful not to cut the canes, this is where the grapes will eventually grow from.
Moon Drop Grapes Fun Facts
Even though Moon Drop grapes are an oddly shaped hybrid, they are not genetically modified. They are the result of traditional cross-breeding.
Moon Grapes are a combination of the C122-121 and the Beitamouni. The Beitamouni often misspelled Beita Mouni, is a Lebanese white grape often used in producing the beverage arak. The C122-121 is an unspecified mystery grape listed on the patent for Moon Grapes.
Moon Grapes, Witch Finger (now known as Tear-drop) and Gum-Drop grapes, are all produced by the Grapery. The Grapery is always developing new varieties of grapes, the most popular of which has been the Cotton CAndy grape.
Next time you spot these extraterrestrial looking grapes, don’t be afraid to try something new and give them a chance. The far-out flavor of these grapes will have you grabbing as many bags as you can.