Fresh Grapes: The "Go To" Fruit for Noncommercial
In noncommercial, you have to be a little and a lot of everything for everyone at every price point. That’s a big order. Depending on what segment of noncommercial you operate in, e.g. business & institutions, schools, colleges and universities, healthcare, you may need to “compete with the street,” adhere to prescribed diets and dietary guidelines, or provide healthy and comfort foods at the same time. You may also need to respond to current and emerging consumer eating trends, to corporate/institutional policies and initiatives, and to your own, sometimes very diverse, customer/client base (Comment cards anyone?).
Basmati Almond Rice with Roasted Grapes
Grapes from California can help you respond to all of these challenges. That’s because grapes are:
Delicious – they’re one of the most popular fruits at retail.
Beautiful – offering color, volume, classically elegant.
Trendy – roasted grapes are now used frequently in casual to up-scale restaurants. The roasting process intensifies the grape flavor and they can be subsequently used in sauces, toppings and dressings.
Exceptionally versatile as an ingredient – check out our “21 Ways to Use Grapes from California.”
Healthy – i.e. very, very good for us. (See Grapes and Health.)
- Consumers are more aware and knowledgeable than ever about health issues, and expect to have options.
- Your patrons, while not captive, are likely loyal regulars. As a result, offering healthy options is more important than ever.
Below you’ll find an array of ideas specifically addressing ways to use grapes in noncommercial foodservice. Take a look also at our other foodservice segment pages (Fine Dining, Chain, Retail). There are likely some ideas you can use in all those areas.
*Grab ‛n Go: Offer fresh grapes in your refrigerated “to go” section, because fresh, healthy and portable wins the day in this arena. Merchandising tip: according to the Stanford Dining study, multi-color packs sold best.
*Salad bars: Offer halved, whole or clusters of grapes in your bar. Don’t just group them with other fruits – grapes are equally at home in savory salads, too.
*Breakfast: Use fresh grapes in anything you might use other fresh berries in such as breakfast parfaits, muffins, coffee cakes, and fruit sauces for waffles and French toast.
*Décor: Nothing communicates bounty, freshness and beauty better than fresh grapes. Plus, they practically arrange themselves.
*Hot Line/Grill Station: Offer grapes instead of fries or chips to go with burgers, paninis and other hot sandwiches. Stanford Dining Services found that when given the choice, 30% of their customers opted for grapes.
*Steam Heat: Grapes do well in pilafs, sauced meats and poultry, curries and more. Grapes also make a nice salsa or relish.
*Expo: You can create a quick grape sauce right before your patrons’ eyes when preparing meats, poultry or fish at a sauté/made to order station. Prepared-to-order salads using grapes - like our Baby Greens with Grapes, Hot-Sweet Pecans and Gorgonzola - are naturals here.
*Salads, Sandwiches and Wraps: Upgrade your basic tuna, chicken and turkey salads by adding grapes. The same goes for sandwiches, wraps and pitas.
*Pizza Day: Grapes are no different than pineapple and in fact, their natural affinity with cheese, makes them somewhat better. When baking pizza, the grapes are essentially roasted, intensifying their flavors.
*Kids: We all know kids love grapes and they’re ready to eat them any time of day: for breakfast stirred in yogurt, as a snack or in place of dessert and especially instead of fries or chips. Check out our Kids Menus section for more ideas.
*Catering: Grapes are a must for catered events, functioning on multiple levels: as decoration, plate garnish and signature ingredient.
Show Us Your Best!
Are you already using grapes in interesting and innovative ways? Do you have a great recipe featuring grapes that your serve in your operations? We'd love to hear about it! Contact us.