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Grapes are often a fruit-lovers favorite, thanks to their year-round availability and flavor versatility. You can eat them like candy or mix them in a salad. They also come in varieties like juice and dried grapes, among others. And with a slight hint of acidic taste depending on the type, it’s not difficult to see why some people commonly ask the question, “are grapes a citrus fruit?”
No, grapes are not citrus fruits. All citrus fruits come from the plant family Rutaceae. Grapes are tropical akin to mangoes, bananas, and peaches. Some get confused with grapes and grapefruit, which is a citrus plant. They are two different fruits unrelated to one another. In this article, we will explore grapes and their distinction from citrus fruits.
The Origins of Grapes
Grape cultivation began in the middle east around 6,000 to 8,000 years ago. Many favored it due to its sweet taste and its propensity to attract yeast. This microorganism gathers on the skin of grapes, which later led to the discovery of wine. Experimentation with yeast formation eventually led to the first alcoholic drinks. Various countries in the Middle East, such as Armenia, soon began forming wineries. Both grapes and red wine became treasured among royalty in many locations. There have been many references to its cultivation in cultures like Ancient Egypt and Persia. Grapes spread throughout Europe and also became popular in many countries there.
Greeks and Romans cultivated grapes for consumption and wine. Grapes soon made their way to Africa and were later transported to North America. Grapes work well in most climates which is why the fruit spread fast. Native Americans relied on grapes, but Europeans disliked that the early North American varieties didn’t work well for wine production. Centuries later, cultivating began in the US, which led to the creation of the Concord grape. Since the 19th century, the grape has become a staple in the agricultural field in the country.
The Key Differences Between Grapes and Citrus Fruits
Now that you know that grapes aren’t citrus fruits, it’s time to differentiate them. Knowing the distinct qualities of each will help you understand them better. Here are the key features of grapes:
Grapes are a small fruit that grows in multiples like berries. They often thrive in temperate climates and have smooth skins. Because of its popularity in the US, many grape varieties are available today. Some grape varieties work best as wine, and others dry into raisins. You can find purple, red, and green grapes in markets today.
Citrus fruits are larger, and they grow from trees, unlike grapes that are vine plants. They thrive in subtropical temperatures and produce the best fruit in warmer seasons. They have rougher skins or rinds. While you can cultivate grapes for many uses, single citrus fruit has many uses packed in one. They are also available in different sizes, though their features are physically similar in appearance.
Grapes often have a sweet taste to pair with their crisp flesh. The sweetness can vary depending on the variety. The thing that differentiates its taste is the lack of citric acid.
Citrus fruits come with citric acid. They are often sweet but balanced by a sourness caused by the acid’s presence. They are rich in vitamin C in comparison and are more fibrous fruits. The best citrus fruits have a good combination of sweetness and sourness.
Both grapes and citrus have flavanols which provide many positive effects. Grapes are rich in potassium which reduces high blood pressure and heart-related ailments. Countries like France love drinking red wine, which lowers heart disease despite their love for fatty foods.
Citrus fruits have potassium but not as much as grapes. They can also improve heart health and reduce the risk of heart disease. Grapes are vital in preventing the risk of clotting and heart blockages. They have the ability to inhibit platelet aggregation. While citrus fruits have similar benefits to the heart, they do not inhibit platelets the way grapes do.
Grapes also contain many antioxidants which help the brain by improving its function. Antioxidants also have a link to anti-aging effects. Many black and red grape varieties work best to prevent neurodegeneration and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Citrus fruits have different antioxidant effects. They are rich in Vitamin C, which helps against some ailments and reduces oxidative stress in the body. Citrus fruits also have electrolytes that prevent the body from dehydrating. However, grapes are more refreshing since they consist mostly of water.
The grapes’ ability to gather yeast makes them the ideal candidate for creating wine. It’s easier to make wines with grapes, and the different varieties also lead to unique finishes. Red wine is a treasured drink in many parts of the world, especially in Europe. The grapes’ ability to grow in temperate climates also means that it is easier to cultivate them into wine.
It’s harder to balance citrus when making wine. You’d have to add yeast manually, measuring the ingredients to make sure it does not come out bitter. Citrus wine is unusual, making them the more exotic choice. However, they are not as popular and as revered as grapes as an alcoholic drink.
Are Grapes a Citrus Fruit?
The differences between grapes and citrus fruits lie mostly in the physical appearance. Grapes look more like berries, have more water content, and have a smoother texture. Citrus fruits are larger, have rougher rinds, and have less water content. The taste is also one vastly different aspect. Grapes are sweet and tart, while citrus is sour with sweetness.
For health benefits, both types of fruits provide similar antioxidant and flavanol effects. Grapes perform better in some areas, like reducing heart disease and brain cell protection. Grapes are also better for creating alcoholic drinks due to their ability to attract yeast. Yeast is vital for the fermentation process. You can do so with citrus, but you have to add in the yeast, and it has a flavor that only appeals to certain tastes.