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Thomcord grapes have a deep blue to purple outer skin, with each grape measuring around 20 millimeters in diameter. The inner flesh is somewhat translucent and very juicy. Some individual Thomcord grape berries contain no seeds, while others may contain 1 to 2 small, edible trace seeds that are soft enough to eat. The Thomcord grape has a high sugar content with a slight astringency, offering a sweet, plummy, intense grape jelly-like flavor with hints of red wine and perfume.
Thomcord grapes are available in the late summer months.
Thomcord grapes are botanically classified as Vitis vinifera, and are a cross between two of America's favorite grapes, the Thompson seedless and the Concord. Although it is a relatively new hybrid, the Thomcord grape is popular because its flavor is very similar to the Concord, which has been used so widely in grape juices and grape jams that it is considered to have the “classic” grape taste. Like the Thompson, a summertime classic, the Thomcord grape is considered to be seedless and easy to eat.
Thomcord grapes contain vitamins A and C, and minerals like calcium and iron.
Thomcord grapes are table grapes, and can be eaten fresh, out of hand. Their intense, grapey flavor and jelly-like consistency makes them a good choice for savory-sweet relishes that can accompany meat and poultry dishes like roasted or fried chicken. Thomcord grapes can be used roasted, atop flatbreads or foccacia, and flavor pairings include onion, rosemary, and olives. Or, use them in salads, alongside nuts like almonds. They are good in fruit salads with other sweet fruit like strawberries and blueberries, and in cheese platters with creamy cheeses like brie and gruyere. Because Thomcord grapes are seedless, they are easy to use when making jams and jellies, or in desserts like pies and tarts. Thomcord grapes can be stored in a bag in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
Some growers have begun to market the Thomcord grape under alternative, catchier names. In 2015, Melissa’s Produce in Los Angeles began selling Thomcord grapes under the name of Jelly Drops®. You’ll also find Thomcord grapes from Brandt Farms being sold as Grape Jammers.
Thomcord grapes were developed in California in 1983. They are a product of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the chief research agency of the United States Department of Agriculture. Grape breeders working for the ARS chanced upon the Thomcord cross when working on their seedless grapes program. Thomcord grapes were tested for 17 years before being made available to growers in 2003. Around 2008, Thomcord grapes became available at farmers markets, and have in recent years been available as a specialty item in major supermarkets nationwide.