Grapes belong to that strange class of fruits or berries that straddles the line between both like a tomato is a vegetable but casually flirts with the idea of being a fruit. In truth, grapes are berries and, like berries, are subject to similar storage conditions that make them last longer.
The California Table Grape Commission recommends storing grapes in high-humidity conditions and at temperatures between 30°F and 32°F. That’s right at the freezing level but they shouldn’t go in your freezer. The best place to store them is the crisper drawer in your fridge.
The crisper drawer is the fruits and veggies drawer in your fridge and it’s not just a drawer that strongly suggests you should store your fruits and vegetables there. It’s a high-humidity drawer. In the case of grapes, a high-humidity drawer is a perfect place to be.
How to Store Your Grapes
For the most part, even if you store your grapes in the absolute best conditions available, you will get a maximum of about a month and a half out of them, possibly two. Still, well over a month is a pretty long time.
Grapes won’t last any longer than a day if you lay them out on a counter, subjecting them to room temperature conditions. A humidity level between 90% and 95% is the sweet spot for grape storage.
That’s not to say you should drench your grapes in water or anything. You just want to place them in a drawer where you can achieve that level of humidity. If you can match the conditions in which grapes last the longest, they’ll taste as fresh a month down the road as the first day you ate one.
Select Your Grapes Carefully
The fresher, the better. If you’re not a grape aficionado, it may be difficult to tell the difference between freshly picked grapes and grapes that are several days old already. Grocery stores know how to keep grapes (humidity and temperature levels), looking as if they just popped off the vine yesterday.
The best way to choose the right bag of grapes is to pay attention to the loose grapes. If you grab a bag and a lot of grapes have fallen off the stem and the stems are coming off as well, move on to the next bag of grapes.
Since grapes that are five days old look just like grapes that are a day old, that’s the best way to find the truth about their level of freshness. You can also study the stems as well. Be sure that they are still moist and flexible, rather than dry and easy to snap.
You also want to check and ensure that the grapes are firm and not squishy. It’s hard to check all of them, of course, since a single stem holds a lot of grapes, and feeling each individual one may get you in a bit of trouble at the grocery store.
But, do your best to identify if any of them are squishy rather than solid and firm.
Proper ventilation is key
Whether you store your grapes on the top shelf of the fridge or in the fruit and vegetable drawer, you should keep them well-ventilated. So long as you have decent moisture content, the grapes being exposed to open air shouldn’t matter.
Most grape bags come with a lot of holes in them and you should keep the grapes in the bag when you aren’t eating them. Some people gobble their grapes up in the space of a few minutes and it doesn’t matter.
For those who don’t, keep them well-ventilated when they are in the refrigerator. Without ventilation, the moisture surrounding the grapes is trapped and trapped moisture that isn’t flowing promotes mold and fungal growth, neither of which you want on your grapes.
Remember, 30°F to 32°F and a humidity of 90% to 95% is key. It’s understandable if you don’t have a fridge that’s capable of those exacting, ambient measurements but does the best you can.
It’s also a good idea to keep the grapes as solitary as you can, meaning you shouldn’t have them jammed up against yesterday’s left-over lasagna. Grapes absorb smells and unless you enjoy parmesan-tasting grapes, it’s a good idea to keep them separate from other foods.
Especially if those foods have pretty strong odors.
You shouldn’t freeze grapes. It certainly won’t hurt them but they will lose a bit of the flavor and texture that makes a grape a grape. Freezing them solidifies the liquid inside, which then expands and contracts, with the thawing process damaging the fruity flesh.
Keeping them at the above-listed temperatures and humidity is the best way to go.
Avoid Ziploc Bags
As we mentioned above, grapes need proper ventilation and a Ziploc bag will only promote fungus and mold growth on your grapes. The growth won’t wait for the grapes to go bad before it goes to work.
If you want to keep your grapes crisp and juicy as the day they came off the vine, keep them well-ventilated and avoid Ziploc bags.
All Things Considered
Grapes are delicious berries and, of course, you want to keep them as fresh as possible for as long as possible. In your vegetable and fruit drawer, your grapes will last for a long time, especially if there is plenty of humidity.
If you want the best-tasting grapes that last, storing them the right way is the best way to get just that.