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Thomcord grapes are medium in size and are round to oval in shape, averaging twenty millimeters in diameter. The smooth, semi-thick skin is deep blue, purple, to black and has a white bloom or film that covers the berries to protect them from moisture loss. The skin clings fairly tightly to the translucent flesh. The flesh is very juicy and seedless, but there may be 1-2 small, undeveloped seeds present that are undetectable when consumed. Thomcord grapes are firm and have 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 late summer.
Thomcord grapes, botanically classified as a hybrid Vitis Labrusca x Vitis Vinifera, are a cross between the thompson seedless and the concord. Although it is a relatively new hybrid, the Thomcord grape is known for its similar flavor to the concord, which has been used widely in grape juices and jams and is considered to have the classic grape taste. Thomcord grapes were created out of an attempt to breed superior seedless grape varieties, and they have become a specialty grape that is most commonly consumed as a table grape.
Thomcord grapes contain vitamins A and C, and minerals like calcium and iron.
Thomcord grapes are best suited for raw consumption as they are most well known as table grapes and can be eaten fresh, out of hand. Their intense, grapey flavor and jelly-like consistency make them suitable for savory-sweet relishes that can accompany meat and poultry dishes like roasted or fried chicken and can be used in making jams and jellies. Thomcord grapes can also be used roasted, atop flatbreads or focaccia, pairing well with onion, rosemary, and olives, and can be baked into desserts such as pies and tarts. They can also be used in green salads alongside nuts like almonds or pistachios, in fruit salads with other sweet fruit like strawberries and blueberries, and in cheese platters with creamy cheeses like brie and gruyere. Thomcord grapes will keep up to one week when stored in a perforated bag in the refrigerator.
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. Unique names are a marketing tool to create novel varieties that consumers remember and purchase on a more frequent basis. It also allows for different companies to distinguish their produce from other retailers and encourage consumers to shop at only their location.
Thomcord grapes were developed in California in 1983. They are a product of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), which is the chief research agency of the United States Department of Agriculture. Thomcord grapes were tested for seventeen years before being made available to growers in 2003. Around 2008, Thomcord grapes became available at farmers markets, and today they can be found at specialty markets across the United States.