Yes, we can grow grapes in North Dakota and the rest of our region. In fact, I was just admiring my neighbor’s prolific grape vines in her backyard garden.
Have you ever thought of growing your own grapes? Grapes can be used to make jam, jelly, juice, vinegar, wine, raisins, grape seed extracts or grape seed oil.
Due to the increase in demand for local products, growing grapes has become a financially prosperous venture.
Historically, the cold winters and short growing season have made grape growing limited in North Dakota. However, resources are available if you are interested in growing grapes.
Keep the following tips in mind as you plan your home vineyard:
- Site selection is very important in the success of a home vineyard. The ideal planting site provides full sunshine, is on a southern hillside, has sandy loam soil and is near a large body of water.
- Protection from the strong winds is another important aspect for growing grapes.
- Select cultivars that ripen early. Louise Swenson is the hardiest white grape cultivar. It is not especially sweet, but it can produce a wine with flower and honey aromas.
- You’ll also need a cultivar that is hardy enough to survive the winter without protection. Somerset are the hardiest seedless grape for North Dakota. Somerset are a rose-colored fruit and are good for making raisins. King of the North is a sweet, blue Concord-type grape used for juices, jams and wines. Swenson Red and King of the North are good cultivars for fresh eating grapes.
- Harvest grapes in late September to early October when the sugar content is at its highest.
See www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/plantsci/hortcrop/h1761.pdf for a North Dakota State University Extension Service publication about growing grapes.
Grapes contain many nutrients and may provide health benefits. A 1-cup serving of grapes provides approximately 60 calories, 16 grams (g) carbohydrate, and less than 1 g of protein, fat and fiber.
Grapes, grape juice and wine all contain antioxidants. Research has shown these antioxidants may be beneficial in reducing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, clots and heart disease. Further research is needed to verify these findings. Red or black grapes will have a higher antioxidant content than green grapes.
Grapes are just one of the specialty crops that can be grown in North Dakota. Visit NDSU Extension’s Field to Fork website at www.ag.ndsu.edu/fieldtofork for more information about growing and using a variety of specialty crops, including grapes.
Here’s a delicious grape recipe to try. For information on preserving grapes, visit www.ag.ndsu.edu/food and click on “Food Preservation.”
½ tsp. salt
Juice from 2 lemons
1 pound chicken breasts
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, mashed
½ c. Greek yogurt, low-fat
½ c. sliced almonds
1 c. grapes, halved
1 apple, peeled, cored, chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 green onions, thinly sliced
10 whole-wheat tortillas
In a large stockpot, combine 4 cups of water with ¼ teaspoon salt and the juice from 1½ lemons. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and add the chicken. Cover with a lid, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 F. Remove chicken from stockpot. Dice the chicken into small pieces. In a large bowl, combine the avocado with the Greek yogurt. Add the almonds, grapes, apple, celery, green onions, and the remaining lemon juice and salt. Add the chicken and mix well. Dividing evenly, spread the chicken mixture on a tortilla and roll up. Slice the tortilla into bite-sized pieces or secure with a toothpick. Serve with your favorite fruit or veggie.
Makes 10 servings. Each serving has 260 calories, 7 grams (g) fat, 20 g protein, 30 g carbohydrate and 300 milligrams sodium.
Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., is a food and nutrition specialist and professor for the North Dakota State University Extension Service