... would taste as sweet? This past summer we were visiting one of our favorite farm stands (Babinski's on Newlight Lane in Water Mill) and saw several boxes of these long, dark things on a stem that resembled grapes, but who ever saw an oblong grape? Curiosity peaked, we had to ask, and the answer was, "they're a new kind of grape" and offered one to us to taste. What a wonderful surprise. The sweetest grape we'd ever tasted.
Of course I had to research these little beauties once I got our box home and low and behold I learned that these are new and for now are going under the name "Moon Drop" grapes. A place called The Grapery is the only farm growing these "utilizing natural, sustainable, non-GMO practices". These new little wonders are created through good old cross-pollination methods.
The Grapery has created a number of new hybrids. In 2013, the "chili pepper" grape was launched with a name that was indicative of their shape but kids wouldn't touch them so the name was changed to "Witch Finger" grape. That was even worse for marketing; no one wanted to even sample something with the word "finger" in its name. So now, this specialty grape has been rebranded as the "Tear Drop" grape.
Why are these grapes sweeter than the ones we're used to? Grocery stores beseech growers to extend the shelf life of their products and to do that grapes are harvested prematurely. These new hybrids, however, are harvested only when they are ripe and thus taste 50% sweeter than their cousins. The down side is that "Tear Drops" and "Moon Drops" are only available for a short time - in their true season. You may find "Tear Drop" grapes in specialty stores between mid-July to early-August, and "Moon Drop" grapes will appear in late August and may still be available in early October.
What else is The Grapery up to? Would you believe a "Cotton Candy" grape? Apparently it's true and these are the most popular of all grapes. Available mid-August to late-September, this grape, that looks like the traditional little green guy, reportedly tastes like candy and can't be kept on the shelves of places like Eli's in NYC. There's also a "Gum Drop" grape, round and purple with a "gummylicious" flavor (their word not mine).
So between mid-July through September keep your eyes peeled for specialty grapes, you'll be pleasantly surprised as we were. In the meantime, check out The Grapery's website and their complete seasonal directory.