How—and When—to Wash Grapes So They Stay Fresh
When you come home from the grocery store with grapes in tow, it can be tempting to skip the wash and pop them in your mouth for a quick bite. After all, one of the best things about grapes is their convenience as a ready-to-eat, nutrient-dense snack. That said, it's important to take the time to clean each portion of grapes properly before you eat them. The tips below will teach you why, when, and how to wash grapes for your many needs: after-school snacks, cheese boards, late night munchies, and the like.
Why You Need to Wash Grapes
Grapes belong to the Dirty Dozen—an annual list of produce with the highest levels of pesticides, compiled by the Environmental Working Group. The EWG recommends splurging on organic grapes, but not everyone can afford to buy organic produce, which can get quite expensive. If you opt for regular, non-organic grapes, take extra care when you're cleaning them to remove as much pesticide residue as possible.
To clarify, the whitish film you often see on grapes isn't from pesticides; it's called "bloom," a waxy coating produced by the plant itself to protect the fruit. While the bloom is safe to eat, it can taste bitter and chalky, so we suggest thoroughly washing your grapes, whether or not they're organic.
When to Wash Grapes
Hold off on washing grapes until you're ready to eat them! The washing process adds excess moisture, which can cause the grapes to decompose faster than they otherwise would. While it seems practical to wash all of your grapes as soon as you get home from the store, you should actually only clean what you plan to eat right then and there, or in the near future. The aforementioned bloom helps keep the grapes fresh, so it's best to avoid washing it off until you're ready to snack on some fruit. For ultimate longevity, keep unwashed grapes in a plastic bag in the refrigerator until you're ready to clean and consume them for a sweet-sour treat.
How to Wash Grapes
Washing grapes isn't complicated, but there are certain steps you should follow to ensure your grapes are as clean as possible.
- With clean hands, empty the grapes from their container into an appropriately sized colander.
- Turn on your faucet, letting cool water stream over the grapes. Using your hands, move the grapes around so that every side gets cleaned.
- If you've decided to remove the bloom, sprinkle a little baking soda and/or salt over the grapes in the colander and gently scrub them with your hands. This light exfoliation will remove the bloom and make the grapes sparkle. (Note: Do not use detergent or soap for this step, as it's not safe for consumption.)
- Rinse off the baking soda and/or salt with cool water.
- After a thorough rinse, dry the grapes in the colander with a clean dish towel or paper towel. Now you're ready for a snack!
How to Store Grapes After Washing
While you should avoid washing grapes until you're ready to eat them, we have a few tips for storage if you've gone ahead and washed them anyway. First, let them dry as completely as possible after they've been washed. This is because excess moisture can lead to faster spoiling. Once dry, store grapes in a ventilated bag in a cold spot of the refrigerator. The air flow and chill will help preserve the fruit for about three weeks.