Why do we treat grapes differently

Grapes - with or without seeds?

Most grapes contain seeds. Image: Christine and Hagen Graf, flickr.com (edit.) Image title: 366/238, CC-BY

Autumn is coming, and with it the grape season! The crunchy grapes refresh us with fruity sweetness and a wonderful aroma. In the fruit displays of organic and supermarkets we find a large selection of different table grapes. Green, rose, blue and pink. Some of these grape varieties are advertised as "seedless". But what about seedless grapes?

The seedless grapes are mostly of the "Sultana" variety, often referred to as "Thompson Seedless". Since it is well known that the seeds of grapes are used for reproduction, the question quickly arises of how seedless grapes can be grown at all. Is it a special cultivation or do seedless grapes also occur in nature? And how can these be increased?

Do seedless grapes occur naturally?

Seedless grapes also occur naturally, but it is a mutation that prevents further reproduction. Without human intervention, seedless grapes are therefore not fertile. Growers of seedless grapes do not rely on the coincidences of nature, but breed their own varieties with special properties.
In addition to the freedom from grape seeds, growers pay attention to a high water and sugar content and good transportability. Because the table grapes that we can buy here have usually already traveled a long way.

Some grape varieties also develop seedless grapes in order to distract predators from the seeds that are so important for propagation. However, this phenomenon does not play a role in the cultivation of seedless grapes.
Grapes come in different colors - and with or without seeds. Image: pixabay.com

Although the "seedless" grapes initially contain small seeds, these wither over time and largely regress. When consumed, the remaining core remains are then hardly noticeable.

Propagation of seedless grapes.

By the way, seedless grapes can usually be recognized visually. At least with organic grapes. Because grape seeds secrete hormones as they grow, the seedless grapes are usually significantly smaller. In the conventional cultivation of table grapes, growth hormones are therefore often sprayed in order to also encourage the fruits with the stunted seeds to grow.

In order to propagate the seedless grapes, however, the winegrowers use a trick. They "refine" reproductive, pithy grape vines with seedless cuttings. These continue to grow on the new trunk, but continue to form seedless grapes. This process is known from many other types of fruit in which hybrid varieties are grafted onto reproductive stems. Different varieties can therefore grow on one vine.

Grapes: do you prefer with or without seeds?

Grapes with seeds are healthier.

As delicious as seedless grapes taste good and as pleasant as they are chewing, you have to do without some valuable ingredients. Because grape seeds, for example, contain valuable polyphenols, which have been proven to have health-promoting properties in many cases. Many of the substances contained in grape seeds are said to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and even inhibitory effects against certain cancer cells. It is not without reason that there are now special food supplements with grape seed extract (OPC = oligomeric proanthocyanidins).

The antioxidant effect as a radical catcher, which is indicated by the Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity (ORAC), is extremely high in grape seeds. Those who value it should therefore always prefer the hearty grape varieties. Because the seedless grapes simply cannot keep up with that.

Since the hard grape seeds cannot be easily cracked by the digestive system, if you want to enjoy their healthy ingredients, you have to face the bitter facts - and chew the tart grape seeds.

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Author: Kilian Thirty