And, we’re back for another episode of Sunnah Superfoods, this time for the wonderful and great grape!
Hit Us With the History
First, grapes have been around a really, really, long time. They originated as long as 130 million years ago, according to archeological finds. Humans started consuming grapes nearly 22,000 years ago, when the ice sheets covering much of North America and Europe began retreating, according to one study.
The earliest known cultivation of domesticated grapes occurred around 6,000 BCE, in what is now the country of Georgia in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. By 4,000 BCE, viticulture, or the making of wine, extended through the Fertile Crescent to the Nile Delta and to Asia Minor. Grapes pictured in hieroglyphics in Egyptian tombs, and wine jugs found in burial sites have been traced back as far as 5,000 BCE. Red wine was among the things Pharaoh Tutankhamon had in his tomb.
Grapes are the most widely-produced fruit in the world, as the world produces about 72 million tons of grapes annually. The three primary uses for grapes are wine, dried fruit (raisins), and fresh table grapes.
Setting aside wine, for obvious reasons, world-wide raisin production averages 800,000 tons per year. Since it takes about four pounds of grapes to produce one pound of raisins, the raisin industry uses about 3.2 million tons of grapes each year.
Fresh (table) grapes account for less than 12% of the world’s total grape production. Since fresh grapes are highly perishable and transportation costs are high, fresh grapes are consumed primarily in the country of their production. Grapes grow natively in both the Americas, Asia, and Europe, as well as the Mediterranean, whilst Europe and North America lead in fresh grape consumption. The average American consumes about eight pounds of fresh grapes each year.
Grapes are a good source of vitamins C and K. They also contain protein, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and minerals.
Reservatrol, a substance found in grapes, has been linked to reduced chances of colon cancer. In fact, grape juice has recently been found to be an important source of flavonoids, a phytonutrient (a chemical found in plants) which can lower risk for cancer, lower cholesterol, prevent hardening of the arteries and fight heart disease.
Grapes in Religion
Grapes are mentioned more than any other fruit in the Bible, including:
According to Genesis 9:20, one of the first things Noah did after the Great Flood was to plant a vineyard. The vine is listed in Deuteronomy 8:8 as one of the plants in the good land that God promised the nation of Israel.
In the New Testament, Jesus referred to himself as the true vine: “I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener” (John 15:1).
Grapes are also in the Holy Quran in numerous places including Surah Baqarah, Surah Kahf, and Surah Ya Sin:
“Would one of you like to have a garden of palm trees and grapevines underneath which rivers flow in which he has from every fruit? But he is afflicted with old age and has weak offspring, and it is hit by a whirlwind containing fire and is burned. Thus does Allah make clear to you [His] verses that you might give thought.” (Quran 2:266)
“It is He Who sends down water (rain) from the sky, and with it We bring forth vegetation of all kinds, and out of it We bring forth green stalks, from which We bring forth thick clustered grain. And out of the date-palm and its spathe come forth clusters of dates hanging low and near, and gardens of grapes, olives and pomegranates, each similar (in kind) yet different (in variety and taste). Look at their fruits when they begin to bear, and the ripeness thereof. Verily! In these things there are signs for people who believe.” (Quran 6:99)
“And within the land are neighboring plots and gardens of grapevines and crops and palm trees, [growing] several from a root or otherwise, watered with one water; but We make some of them exceed others in fruit. Indeed in that are signs for a people who reason.” (Quran 13:4)
“Or you have a garden of date-palms and grapes, and cause rivers to gush forth in their midst abundantly.” (Quran 17:91)
“And put forward to them the example of two men; unto one of them We had given two gardens of grapes, and We had surrounded both with date-palms; and had put between them green crops (cultivated fields etc).” (Quran 18:32)
“And We have made therein gardens of date-palms and grapes, and We have caused springs of water to gush forth therein.” (Quran 36:34)
In terms of any mention of grapes in sunnah, I could not find an authentic hadith, but sources reported that our Rasool (PBUH) enjoyed grapes. Among the scholars, Ibn al-Qayyim writes that the Prophet salallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam was reported to have liked eating grapes and watermelon.
So our lovely sunnah food, the grape, is delicious, nutritious, and traditional. How to eat it? Here are 4 delicious ways to incorporate this superfood into your diet, and make it a grape day in the process!
1. Concord Grape Juice Soda
First, as a drink, grape juice is very healthy. Particularly Concord Grape Juice in its pure form:
2 oz. Concord Grape Juice
6-12 oz. Sparkling Water
1/8 cup frozen grapes (as ice cubes)
Sprig of mint for garnishing
2. Raisin Trail Mix
Also raisins can be used in numerous ways, including salads, couscous and quinoa, and plain as a snack or mixed as trail mix.
1 cup raisins
1 cup Pumpkin seeds
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup white chocolate chips
3. Spinach Salad with Raisins
Mix these ingredients together, and you have a heavenly and nutritious salad:
1 bag spinach
½ cup raisins
½ cup slivered toasted almonds
Goddess dressing to taste (or opt for your own favorite dressing)
4. Sunnah Superfood Fruit Salad
Fresh grapes themselves are also great in fruit salad. There are some reports that the Prophet (PBUH) enjoyed melon and grapes together, and Allah knows best. Mix the following ingredients together for a truly delicious fruit salad:
½ mini watermelon cut in chunks
2 cups grapes sliced in half
1 cup pomegranate seeds
Mint diced very finely
Lemon juice to taste
Sarah is a social worker in the San Francisco Bay Area with at-risk and homeless youth. She likes to paint, drum, sing, and spend quality time with her family and God in her free time. She is currently working on a book on Sufism, mindfulness and recovery from co-occurring disorders and on an album with her band EYETestify.